The Watershed – An Off-Grid Writer’s Retreat

Do you ever dream of having your own little (off-grid) retreat? A place where you can be isolated from all the distractions of modern life? Erin Moore designed this little retreat, called the Watershed, for her mother Kathleen Dean Moore, a nature writer.


The Watershed - An Off-Grid Writer's Retreat

While the retreat creates a sense of solitude, it’s also a lively space. The main window looks out to the western side of the plot, with views of the tree and local wildlife. A chute that’s designed to capture rainwater, funnels it into a steel basin where it acts as both a measure of precipitation, and a spot for deer to drink, birds to bathe, and reflect light into the Watershed.


The Watershed is located “off the beaten track“. They decided not build a road to the shelter, or even a track for that matter. Visitors have to take a short hike to reach the unique writing studio. It’s constructed from a prefab steel frame, to which the exterior cladding, a tongue and groove red cedar siding, is fastened.

The Watershed - An Off-Grid Writer's Retreat


The size of the retreat (just 70 square feet) allowed all the timber siding, glass, and concrete for the foundations, to be carried onto the site by hand. The main frame for the home was transported to the site by a front loader. The small footprint, and the ability to carry items to the site, reduced the impact on the surrounding wildlife and their ecosystems. The retreat is also designed for deconstruction and recycling, boasting its sustainable credibility.

The Watershed - An Off-Grid Writer's Retreat

To create the Watershed, Kathleen enlisted the help her daughter and her design skills, her husband’s flair for carpentry, and friends. The varied crew completed construction of the Watershed in September of 2007. Erin notes that while the Watershed is aesthetically pleasing, it’s more about looking outwards, “not something to look at; it’s more about being there and looking out.

The Watershed - An Off-Grid Writer's Retreat

The Watershed is completely off-grid, and Kathleen forgoes the computer for pen and paper. As she puts it: “The goal was to figure out how to live on the land without spoiling it.

For more tiny retreats check out Megan Lea’s sustainable backyard studio, or the Sol Duc Cabin by Olson Kundig Architects. See all retreats.

Via Dwell

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

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