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Competition: Chaîne des Parcs cabins, France

An open international contest has been launched for a series of €5,500 temporary cabins in the historic Artois province of northern France (Deadline: 15 February)

The ‘l’Odyssée des Cabanes’ competition seeks innovative proposals for a range of 20m² bothies to be constructed within the Chaîne des Parcs regional park. It is open to urban designers, architects, planners, artists, and landscape architects.

The call for concepts – backed by local development agency Euralens – will select six winning schemes to be constructed next year within the 2,200ha parkland which connects seven former mining sites in the wider Pas-de-Calais area. Concepts may harness any material but must be weather resistant.

Louvre-Lens by Sanaa

Louvre-Lens by Sanaa

Source: Image by Iwan Baan

Louvre-Lens by Sanaa

According to the brief: ‘The “cabin” is here conceived as a structure that gives the walker, the tourist, or the user the opportunity to appropriate the landscape, to observe nature, to play, to rest, to meet, to interact or even to experiment.

‘It must be an attraction that encourages the discovery of the parks. It should be eco-constructed, less than 20m² of footprint. The projects can be prefabricated and installed on site or built during an on-site residence.’

Chaîne des Parcs is a new regional park designed by French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, which connects a number of former mines within the Pas-de-Calais area of northern France.

Projects so far delivered as part of the initiative include Parc des Îles by Ilex Landscape Architecture and the 20ha Louvre-Lens (pictured) by Sanaa.

The free-to-enter competition is part of the DYSSÉE-Euralens 2019 event. Submissions will be judged on their design quality, use of environmentally-friendly materials, functionality, economic viability, originality, and suitability for a range of uses within the wider park.

Each winning team will receive €1,500 worth of expenses and €5,500 to deliver their scheme which will be expected to remain on site between May and September next year.

Applications may be in English or French and should include a 3D image, diagrams, a budget and up to 1,500 characters of description.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 15 February

Contact details

Projet L’Odyssée des Cabanes
Maison Syndicale des Mineurs
30/32 rue Casimir Beugnet
62300 LENS


Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Blandine Roselle

The organiser discusses her ambitions for the competition

Blandine Roselle

Blandine Roselle

Blandine Roselle

Why are your holding a competition for new cabins in the Chaîne des Parcs area of northern France?

The project comes on the occasion of the Odyssey event, which celebrates the 10 years existence of Euralens, an organisation born at the same time as the Louvre-Lens museum, and aims to speed up the transformation of the territory. The competition invites external (local and non-local) people to offer a fresh look at our landscapes and to propose other ways to develop it, without preconceived ideas (on identity, heritage, people). Opening the competition to a broad spectrum of creators allows us to confront different perspectives, imagine original purposes and thus expand the range of possibilities. Being neighbours of Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, it’s just natural to spread the competition abroad. And why deprive yourself of visions from further afield that can help renew the space?

What is your vision for the six new cabins?

The cabins must punctuate a ballad: an aesthetic surprise, an opportunity to relax, a better way to understand the natural area, a meeting point … The sites are of various size and nature: classified slag heaps, places to encourage respect for nature, spaces for sports … and each has its own constraints (which will be detailed in data sheets once we have confirmed the locations in agreement with the safety authorities as some sites are listed or protected). The criterion of eco-construction is crucial in the analysis of applications while innovation will be a bonus in the study of proposals. Indeed we are part of the Rev3 dynamic, the ‘third industrial revolution’ in the Hauts de France (north France Region).

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The contest is truly open to both emerging and established designers. We are actively working to promote the project (including the most interesting projects, not just the six winners). We are also in discussion with the Lille Métropole World Design Capital 2020 to integrate the project, boost it and promote it. Otherwise, whatever the level of the winners, we will help to find partnerships, patronage or sponsorship with regional companies. During the application period, we can also give guidance on possible partners for the realisation of projects.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We hope that this first idea of creating cabins will encourage local participants to continue the adventure. Further projects are already being considered. In addition, the Kraft association is working on the development of cabins on a larger scale and in the framework of various other projects (festivals, events, exhibitions, public spaces, unusual habitat developments).

The candidates’ submissions will constitute a useful catalogue and allow the knowledge of a pool of creators to be solicited first for eventual new orders.

Are there any other recent temporary cabins projects you have been impressed by?

  • Windstation by Atelier ARI, 2018, Toronto, Canada (design competition Winterstations).
  • Florarium des Alpes by Atelier ARI, 2017, Crevoux, France (Parcours des Fées)
  • Shiver house by NEON, 2015, Korppoo, Finland
  • Wind cathedral by Neon, 2017, Saint-Victor-la-Rivière, France
  • Refuge by Vladislav Svekatun, Dimitry Chudaev, 2016, Annecy (Festival des Cabanes)
  • Folly ‘De Swoaistee’ by Huting and De Hoop, 2016, Slochteren, NL, (design competition by the Stichting Landgoed Fraeylemaborg)
  • The 3D Print Canal House by DUS architects, 2016, Amsterdam


Arthur’s Cave case study: Q&A with Miller Kendrick

The Birmingham and Leamington Spa-based practice discusses lessons learned designing a competition-winning new holiday cabin for rural Wales

Miller Kendrick

Miller Kendrick

Miller Kendrick

How did your Arthur’s Cave project deliver an inspiring cabin for a rural setting in Wales?

The cabin was one of eight winning entries for a design competition run by Epic Retreats – a partnership part-funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourist Product Innovation Fund – to celebrate Wales’s Year of Legends 2017.

The abstract form of the cabin is intended to stimulate the imagination but still sit comfortably within the Welsh landscape. The shape is universal and familiar, but at the same time suggests something ancient. It can be seen as symbolic of ancient monoliths, cromlechs or caves.

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Whilst the design takes inspiration from the ancient landscape of Wales, it uses modern construction techniques. The structure is a combination of CNC-cut birch plywood ribs and sheathing panels, which act together to form a composite structure. As a single internal material, the plywood provides structure, finish, fixtures and fittings – including a plywood sink and bath.

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Wherever possible the project sought to use locally sourced materials: the faceted envelope is clad in Welsh larch boards sourced from Esgair Forest, whose sawmill is in the neighbouring village of Machynlleth, while the sheep’s wool cavity insulation is sourced from Ty-Mawr.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing pop-up cabins for the Chaîne des Parcs area of France?

Respect the site context, think about how it will provide a unique, luxurious experience and also how it can be decommissioned sustainably.

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

Arthur’s Cave by Miller Kendrick

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