Inspirations

Shed Chic: Architect Mariana de Delás Turns an Off-the-Grid Hut into a Dream Retreat

Calling all tiny house fans, outbuilding enthusiasts, and aspiring escapists. The Spanish island of Mallorca, architect Mariana de Delás tells us, is dotted with “stone shelters built as refuges for hunters and shepherds to take cover or rest, and as storage for tools.” Dating from the mid-19th century and now mostly abandoned, these made-to-last huts, she notes, happen to be set in untouched, idyllic locations.

Mariana got her start working for Ricardo Bofill and now runs her own multidisciplinary design studio based in Barcelona, Madrid, and Mallorca. When her firm went entirely remote not so long ago, Mariana and a neighbor friend in Mallorca turned one of these hideouts that he owns into a makeover project. Set in an abandoned stone quarry, the structure required, Mariana says, “the introduction of light, views, and made-to-measure furniture.”

She also stocked it with low-impact ideas that others might apply to their own basic quarters. Known as the 12-Volt Retreat, the hideaway, located 40 minutes from the island’s main hub, Palma, gets its power from rechargeable batteries and a solar panel perched in a wheelbarrow. There’s a ceiling fan overhead, running water courtesy of a pump—and no shortage of style. Come see.

Photography by Tomeu Canvellas, courtesy of Mariana de Delás.

“the exercise in this particular hideout was to recuperate and emph 9
Above: “The exercise in this particular hideout was to recuperate and emphasize the existing structure while optimizing the inside space,” says Mariana. The table and stool were assembled from panels of marés, the Mallorcan sandstone that the structure is built from.

Mariana and the hut’s owner did the work themselves and, along the way, she began to think of the place as a prototype not only for other empty hideaways on the island but, thanks to her portable designs, for modern nomadic life in general, whether in a van, mobile home, or other compact dwelling.

the hut has its original terracotta roof tiles. “the main architect 10
Above: The hut has its original terracotta roof tiles. “The main architectural intervention was the insertion of a bright red bow window that frames the landscape,” says Mariana. The architect designed and built the frame in collaboration with Mallorca production studio 2Monos with a goal of having “the thinnest metal profile possible and an opening mechanism that is easy, elegant, and functional.”
thanks to the new window, the interior has natural light and a cross breeze. th 11
Above: Thanks to the new window, the interior has natural light and a cross breeze. The hand-polished concrete floor is original.

mariana also used mallorcan sandstone to build a daybed cushioned with local fa 12
Above: Mariana also used Mallorcan sandstone to build a daybed cushioned with local fabrics and fitted with metal storage bins. “There are twenty active quarries,” she says. For the furniture, she picked the whitest version of the local stone. It’s carvable, hence the shaped stool seat, which Mariana paired with a pre-fabricated base that she painted red.
  the paintings are from cinco tejas, a madrid gallery/artists&#8217 13
Above:  The paintings are from Cinco Tejas, a Madrid gallery/artists’ collective that Mariana is part of. The portrait is by Feliz Martinez-Villalba.
the fireplace is original—”it was made for cooking the rabb 14
Above: The fireplace is original—”it was made for cooking the rabbits that were hunted; fireplaces are always the centerpiece of these retreats.” Mariana introduced simple shelves for basics, including a cook pot that runs on small bottles of gas. The light and ceiling fan operate by 9-volt rechargeable solar batteries. “A bigger power bank and some electric scooter 12-volt batteries are also in use for charging laptops, the water pump and other heavier-load components,” says Mariana. “We figured out that scooter batteries can be used as power banks for fixtures that have a voltage less than 12/24 volts.”
the new window is framed in wood and overlooks a pine forest and the old quarry. 15
Above: The new window is framed in wood and overlooks a pine forest and the old quarry.
the design for the ceiling fan, fabricated by 2monos, was inspired by mallorca 16
Above: The design for the ceiling fan, fabricated by 2Monos, was inspired by Mallorca’s 19th century windmills.
red accents on whitewashed walls lend the hideout a fresh, cohesive look. 17
Above: Red accents on whitewashed walls lend the hideout a fresh, cohesive look.
the stone sink was assembled from old farm fixtures, including a basin that had 18
Above: The stone sink was assembled from old farm fixtures, including a basin that had been used as a dog bowl.

Explains Mariana:  “The existing well holds water that is collected from the roof; originally there was a small window and water was brought into the house with the help of buckets. We sealed the window glass—it brought in too many mosquitos—and installed the faucet and sink on the outside. We bought a 12-volt pump that is inserted in the well; thanks to a motorbike battery, you can use it to bring water through a pipe that’s attached to the faucet. Instead of opening or closing the faucet, we turn the pump on and off with a light switch.”

the solar roller, as it’s known, gets moved to optimize its chargin 19
Above: The Solar Roller, as it’s known, gets moved to optimize its charging position. “All inside electrical components operate with small portable batteries that that can be charged from the power banks that are charged at the solar wheelbarrow,” says Mariana.

“Once high-capacity batteries become lighter, the power grid and installations can travel with the user and not be fixed to the architecture.” Mariana sees a future of “easier mobile living” and more rustic refuges, such as her hut.

Check out some other inspired—and barebones—summer quarters: