at the end of every year since 2013, designboom has compiled the most talked about projects from the previous 12 months as part of our BIG stories series. as we begin the final month of 2020, we continue our annual TOP 10 round up of the year’s biggest and best projects with a look at remote retreats that have proved popular with our readers over the past 12 months. the selected projects offer respite from crowded cities in a year where access to nature has been needed like never before.


from mountain cabins to treehouses and even teahouses, read more about each of our ten selected schemes below. see here for our TOP 10 museums of 2020 and stay tuned as we continue our BIG stories over the month of december.



1 – treehouse hotel in bali by alexis dornier

TOP 10 retreats 2020image © KIE



alexis dornier designed these stilted treehouses in bali, merging tropical and industrial styles of architecture. built to house a handful of rooms for the LIFT treetop boutique hotel, each of the structures features a thatched roof that sits atop a steel frame. the project started as an experiment in building lighter, more sustainable architecture.


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2 – LUMIPOD cabins immerse visitors in nature

TOP 10 retreats 2020image by kevin dolmaire, courtesy of LUMIPOD



earlier this year, the first LUMIPOD cabins were installed 1,000 meters above sea level in a forest in the french alps. created by LUMICENE, the circular dwellings use the company’s signature windows, wrapping them with a glazed façade that spans five meters in diameter and invites users to enjoy an immersive, unobstructed experience of nature.


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3 – stifter + bachmann builds a copper-clad refuge in the italian alps

TOP 10 retreats 2020
image © oliver jaist



more than 3,000 meters above sea level in italy’s aurina valley, stifter + bachmann realized an unusually-shaped mountain hut called ‘sasso nero’. the name of this refuge translates to ‘black stone’, and, similarly to how a rock is eroded by the wind, the building’s form has been shaped to withstand hurricane-level gusts. 


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4 – the seedpod is a floating micro-resort that lets you escape the city

TOP 10 retreats 2020image © peter jackson



with its low impact structure and soothing cocoon-like shape, the ‘seedpod’ offers travelers the opportunity to sleep in the great outdoors without compromising on comfort. ‘our goal was to take inspiration from the humble seed, to create a floating hotel room that was both ephemeral and robust – comfortable but exciting to sleep in,’ explains louis thompson of nomadic resorts — the company behind the project.


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5 – terunobu fujimori elevates ‘ein stein’ teahouse in germany

TOP 10 retreats 2020
images by hertha hurnaus



this year, after months of planning, terunobu fujimori installed the ‘ein stein’ tea house at the stiftung insel hombroich museum in neuss, germany. the project reflects the precise knowledge of the history and principles of the tea ceremony and its personal interpretation by the japanese architect. in particular, natural materials such as untreated robinia trunks and a wooden boarding carbonized by the traditional yakisugi method were used. an exhibition accompanied the realization of the project.


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6 – filter architecture perches shelter on the edge of canyon in bosnia & herzegovina

TOP 10 retreats 2020
image by jadran čilić, courtesy of filter architecture



the ‘bivouac zoran simic cabin’ by filter architecture sits on the remote mountain of visočica in bosnia and herzegovina. the small structure serves as a shelter for hikers and allows for striking views over the landscape. it is the first object of this typology on the mountain which recently became more accessible due to the development of local road infrastructure.



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7 – floating sauna lets you experience the wilderness of british columbia

TOP 10 retreats 2020
image © ben giesbrecht



this floating sauna immerses guests of the nimmo bay resort in the wilderness of british columbia. located in the heart of the wild great bear rainforest, on the rugged west coast of canada, the sauna offers a serene spot to enjoy a refreshing, meditative steam. this little cabin is made of cedar and sits on top of a wooded dock.


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8 – this treehouse by jan tyrpekl offers a 360-degree view of nature

TOP 10 personal and remote retreats of 2020image by jan hromádko, courtesy of jan tyrpekl



this project by czech architect jan tyrpekl aims to create a direct contact between the user and the landscape in order to awaken a deeper interest in the place it inhabits. located on a private property just outside of prague, the structure consists of two independently anchored wooden platforms and curved floor-to-ceiling windows.


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9 – HANNAH builds 3D-printed cabin from waste wood

HANNAH ashen cabin new york waste wood
image by andy chen, courtesy of HANNAH



HANNAH is an experimental design and research studio led by leslie lok and sasa zivkovic. for this project, HANNAH turned waste wood into a 3D-printed structure called ‘ashen cabin’, which reflects how new manufacturing methods can help to make useful what we think is waste. ‘in our projects, we aim to mine the tension between machine means and architectural ends,’ comments HANNAH. ‘we reclaim authorship over processes of construction that influence the way we can build — or perhaps ought to build in the future.’


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10 – helen & hard’s treehouse is suspended from a living pine tree

helen & hard  woodnest tree house norwayimage courtesy of helen & hard



helen & hard completed this treehouse located on the steep forested hillsides of odda, norway. dubbed ‘woodnest’, the design took into consideration the topography and conditions of the site where it is positioned. the team suspended the cabin above the forest floor and fastened it with a steel collar to the individual trunk of a living pine tree. this has created a unique spatial experience that recalls that of climbing and exploring trees while embodying a real sense of what it means to dwell in nature.


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see designboom’s TOP 10 stories archive: