After a few working bees around the Driving Creek Railway and Pottery, Wellington-based architect and furniture designer
The brief from the clients required the design to be constructed out of found materials within the proximity of the site. Wasting no time, Dombroski spent his first day securing a location beneath the kanuka canopy. An abandoned steel frame that was once part of a zipline platform was reclaimed, for the architect saw potential in the metalwork becoming the footprint, circulation, and foundation for the would-be shelter.
The overall construction is made entirely of materials sourced from buildings that no longer served their purpose. The process took a third of the working timeline, while the remainder was focused on construction into the late hours and creating connections with visiting artists and curious visitors who offered additional materials. Through these meaningful engagements, Picalo was constructed, resembling a classic corrugated metal shed framed by weather-worn steel frame while timber frames are used for the entrance and openings to warm the cold composition. From the front, the architecture sculpturally resembles the uprise slope of a skateboard ramp, an inspiration drawn from Dombroski’s early studies of skatebowls made during a photography study.
Inside, the micro-cabin is wide enough to snugly fit a single bed on one end and a desk on the other. Beneath the desk uncovers a secret door that allows visitors to sit on the concrete floor when using the desk, utilising the versatility of the found structure. Soft lighting cast by the openings creates a serene ambience heightened by aged ply panels in the colour resembling dark polished concrete. Thanks to the sloping rise of the form of the shed, a skylight is positioned directly above the bed for visitors to admire the tree canopies swaying with the wind—a characteristic that inspired Dombroski’s concept of a “room to view the trees” for the design.
Now part of a community that invites artists to reside in their own makeshift cabins to work, Picolo is a niche contribution to Driving Creek Railway. Nestled among the foliage and appreciating nature’s orchestra, sometimes Picolo doesn’t feel like a cabin, but instead offers qualities of a treehouse that has been playfully placed on the ground to appreciate nature at an alternative altitude.
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