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The Invisible Cabin

Using custom-designed cabins that blend seamlessly into the woods, Canadian company Arcana offers getaways meant to reconnect people with nature.

By Rachel Gallaher

Images by Andrew Latreille

glass house cabin in the woods

Arcana's innovative tiny cabin is only 275 square feet and blends seamlessly with its surroundings.

At the end of 2019, architect Michael Leckie of Vancouver’s Leckie Studio, was approached by entrepreneurs Alan Gertner and Jeremy Hill about joining them in a venture to help people connect with nature.

They had an idea to create a series of micro-cabins in the wilderness and knew that Leckie had a passion for the outdoors and experience with prefabrication and off-grid construction (he is behind the Backcountry Hut Company). The resulting venture, Arcana, offers a group of tiny, mirrored cabins that blend into the surrounding woods that can be rented for a rejuvenating time out of the city and a way to reconnect with the natural world.

“I had originally met Alan in 2019 at the Interior Design Show in Toronto,” Leckie says. “We met at the trade show when the Backcountry Hut Company was introducing our prefabricated, flat-packed, kit-of-parts cabin system, The Great Lakes Cabin, as the featured ‘concept home.’ Alan purchased the prototype at the show, and it was then disassembled and re-assembled on his off-grid island in Georgian Bay.

“Through that build process Alan and I came to be friends,” he continues, “and he and Jeremy approached me with the possibility of becoming a founding partner in Arcana. The fact that the three of us shared a common set of values, including a life-long love of nature, design, and innovation, made it feel like a natural fit.”

modern bedroom in tiny house with views of nature

Amenities include a queen-size bed, a table, and a micro-kitchen.

Launched earlier this year, Arcana’s first site is located two hours northwest of Toronto, on naturally forested land. (There are plans to build on additional across North America in the future). Situated in small groups, the 275-square-foot cabins are clad in reflective, polished stainless steel and are virtually invisible in the surrounding forest. (“The metal cladding uses an innovative, slightly distorted, reflection that helps to protect birds and wildlife from injury,” Leckie says. “Additionally, we worked with FLAP Canada on a custom, subtle film, applied to the cladding to prevent bird strikes.”) Minimalist interiors feature a panoramic prominent picture window at one end, and amenities that allow for a multi-night stay: a queen bed, table, compact kitchen with sink and cooktop, and a bathroom with toilet and shower. Interiors are entirely wood-lined (maple for the prototype) with black steel accents, and each cabin also has an exterior private deck and fire pit.

“The Arcana cabins are designed to be virtually invisible in the surrounding landscape, allowing guests to feel as close to nature as possible,” Leckie says. “The idea of bringing people closer to nature was the core idea, and as we brought on additional co-founders, we expanded the vision to returning humanity to the wild. We’re ultimately creating experiences designed to bridge urban and rural, to heighten your connection to, and awareness of, the supernatural.”

architect designed cabin in the woods, glass house interior glow

A deck porch and a fire pit complete the experience.


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