I first learned about the Ontarian tradition of the bunkie, or guest bunkhouse, during a chat I had with Toronto-based interior designer Sarah Richardson
back in 2011 after she had built her very own bunkie constructed from scrap materials leftover from the remodeling of her family’s lovely — and completely off the grid — summer cottage on Georgian Bay.
Given that I don’t spend that much time in Ontario and its environs, I hadn’t thought much of bunkies until I sported this lovely prefabricated micro-home design dubbed, most fittingly, Bunkie
The result of a collaboration between two Toronto-based firms, the architectural design firm BLDG Workshop
and the industrial design firm 608 Design
, the 106-square-foot Bunkie steps beyond the woodsy roots of its namesake structure as it isn't just fit as a sleeping cottage at far-flung lake properties — it could make for a cozy little backyard accessory dwelling unit as well. And as for Bunkie’s petite footprint, the square footage circumvents the need for planning permission — in Ontario at least anyway.
Calling the Bunkie “a spare room for backyards” that’s less of a proper structure and more a large piece of furniture, James Holloway of Gizmag
speaks to Nathan Buhler of BLDG Workshop. Says Buhler: “We started with the Bunkie as a medium to experiment in ideas that cross boundaries between architecture and furniture design.” He adds: “Everything can be built in a factory and shipped on site for final assembly.”
Indeed, the designers plan for the wooden-framed Bunkie to be precision-cut in a factory using a computerized milling device known as a computer numerical control (CNC) router. The exacting, low-waste process used to create Bunkie's puzzle-like framework is frequently used in the manufacture of plywood furniture and wouldn’t be too dissimilar from Denmark’s stunning “printed” house, Villa Asserbo
A versatile and cleverly designed little charmer, Bunkie has three distinct "operating modes" that can brought to life by simply tweaking the structure’s built-in furniture: In the entertaining- and socializing-minded “play” mode, a folding dining table and chairs can be removed from their hiding spot in the structure's main wall. In “sleep” mode, one bed folds out of the wall while another folds out from the pitch of the roof. Gizmag explains that when both beds are folded out, “a sort of queen sized bunk bed arrangement with the top bunk accessed by ladder” is created. Because, really, it wouldn’t be a proper bunkie without bunk beds. Finally, “open” mode is when everything is folded up and put away and the floor space can be used for various activities such as yoga, meditation, art, etc.
And about those glass walls ...
The need for this architectural type is easily identified, re-born to function more elegantly with regards to its purpose and aesthetics. By maintaining a transparent view of the site, the Bunkie is integrated into the landscape.
BLDG Workshop and 608 Design plan to officially launch the Bunkie concept next year. Although there isn’t a ton of info on pricing, customization, etc. available at this point you can sign up for email updates at the Bunkie Co. website to keep up to date as the project moves along.
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Traditional Canadian guest bunkhouse goes prefab with Bunkie Co.
Two Ontario firms team up to create a charming sleeping cottage concept that's more akin to a giant piece of furniture than an actual small-scale structure.