Cabiner is a network of innovative off-grid cabins blended in the natural environment connected by hiking routes, delivering a positive impact on biodiversity and the local economy.
Only accessible by foot, the circular designed cabins are temporarily placed in nature reserves. The hike and remote overnight stay offer visitors a unique nature experience. We help to protect local nature environment by investing revenue and show the potential of sustainable nature-based tourism close to home.
Cabiner combines a network of hiking routes and innovative off-grid cabins across most beautiful remote natural areas, connecting people and nature. The small hiking cabins are designed in a spirit of circularity and aesthetics, providing comfortable, beautiful and sustainable accommodation (4 people capacity).
The cabins are only accessible on foot and designed to be part of the surroundings. Made from elements such as cardboard and wood, the hiking cabins are circular and blend into the natural landscape, so they become barely visible to the casual observer passing by.
The hike and remote overnight stay, in beautiful wilderness, offer visitors a unique off-grid nature experience, going back to the essential and with intuitive contact with the elements: water, earth, fire and light. Through the self-sustained circular design of the cabin, power, water and heat are all generated and controlled by the cabin itself and no trace is left behind. The concept and experience show the potential of sustainable nature-based tourism close to home.
By staying in Cabiner, a part of revenue is reinvested to protect the local natural environment. This way, visitors contribute to nature projects protecting the ecosystem and to planting trees; thereby delivering a positive impact on biodiversity in the nature reserves where the cabins are located. By hiring people in an inclusive way and buying local products and services, Cabiner also supports the local economy in the rural areas around the trails and cabins.
An additional dimension seeks to place temporary hiking cabins in nature reserves covering national cross-borders areas so people can make hiking journeys across (national) parks and between EU countries. Thereby blurring borders and connecting Europe’s diverse cultures and citizens through the common joy of hiking and connecting to nature.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
Cabiner sustainability objectives are set and implemented in 3 main areas:
1. Cabins are based on a self-sustained circular design and use cardboard as their main building material. They are based on a groundbreaking construction technique that involves an innovative rotating mold tool to generate the house-shaped structure. The structure consists of a total of 24 layers that are bonded together using environmentally friendly glue. The result is a robust sandwich structure with optimal insulation properties. Moreover, the processed cardboard also has a delightful aesthetic appeal and possesses exceptional constructive strength. The off-grid technology allows us to operate in remote areas, delivering clean water and processing waste to ensure we comply with the strictest environmental standards. The cabins are placed maximum five years in one same location, to ensure the least possible impact on nature.
2. Staying at Cabiner is climate positive; more carbon is sequestered than emitted as the cabin generates energy with solar panels and has minimal emissions while operating due to the efficient wood stove. Part of revenue is reinvested to plant trees in the forest, or to restore the ecosystem and increase biodiversity, contributing to nature projects in the area. In addition, guests spend their leisure time or vacation close to home without the need to cover long distances or take an airplane.
3. Guests at Cabiner experience full off-grid living, leaving no trace behind. Prior to any stay, visitors will receive and commit to a Wilderness Declaration stating the 'laws of the wilderness'. People can enjoy vegan self-cooking, with products brought by them on their hike and meal packages provided by a local, organic supermarket providing in season ingredients and vegetables.
Combined these effects show an attractive and sustainable model for nature-based tourism that highlights and supports the development of local rural environments.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
Following a modern minimalist approach, our hiking cabins make impressive use of cardboard as a sustainable material for creating a robust, light and aesthetically appealing construction. The design consistency of both the exterior and the interior, is highly noteworthy. The use, touch and feel of processed cardboard, inside wood and natural materials contribute to the aesthetics and quality of experience for the guests. Only accessible on foot, the hiking cabins are made to be part of their surroundings, as a natural element, and totally blend into the natural landscape.
The inside is minimalist and features a glass façade and wood materials which make the visitor feel connected to the outside forest world from inside the cabin. We have applied the ‘less is more’ philosophy to the entire experience, bringing the cabin back to the essentials needed for an enjoyable stay: great comfortable beds for four people, a warm shower, kitchen, toilet, dining area and reading corner all on just 18 m2. No electricity plugs, wifi or screens ensure that time spent is focused on disconnecting from the daily routine, and most importantly connecting with the now, nature and with each other. All systems in the cabin are 'off-grid'. Power, water and heat are all generated and controlled by the cabin itself, waste is taken back by the visitor.
Through the self-sustained circular design of the cabin, and their focus on the essence, visitors are also brought back into intuitive contact with the elements: water, earth, fire and light. The wood stove is the heart of the cabin and is used to heat the house. At the same time, the fire heats the shower water and cooks your evening meal. Thanks to the hand-operated pump groundwater is available for fresh drinking water. The water is then used for showers and toilets. The waste water is first cleaned before it flows back into the ground. Power for lighting and ventilation system is generated by the roof solar panels.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context
Both the People focus in its diverse human dimension and the focus on Nature, and their inter-connection, are core to Cabiner concept and mission.
Supporting human well-being, fairness and diversity are essential elements of the Cabiner philosophy, project design and values. We strive to promote and implement inclusion and participation throughout our work internally and externally, with due regard to gender balance and diversity in its broad sense. Through an inclusive approach to local communities, sites and partnerships, Cabiner reaches out to diverse groups and customers base.
Our cabins are located in nature reserves, around which people live and work. By involving entrepreneurs and employees from the local communities and surroundings, we connect the interests of the nature reserve and the local environment and actors.
Maintenance and cleaning of the cabins is done by the local Cabiner teams, whereby we employ people with various disabilities, and people facing challenges and obstacles finding work on the labor market. For employees, the time spent in beautiful nature outdoors, low stress tasks and professional guidance ensure high levels of work satisfaction.
Digital tools are the main platform for all aspects of Cabiner work (from general communication and promotion, through cabin reservations and check-in and out systems, or accessing hiking routes information). Accessibility of the website is built based on Google Material Design Standards. Cabiner will sustain a continued focus on accessibility of digital platforms to be further improved as needed. The Cabiner website is also currently available in 5 European languages with a view to enable a wide access to the information.
Cabiner development across European nature sites will sustain key consideration of inclusion and accessibility at its core, including accessible pricing so many people will be able to experience the power of nature.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary
Cabiner’s approach combines in its very concept dimensions of aesthetics, sustainability and inclusion, providing a unique quality of experience reconnecting with nature.
Our mission – connecting people and nature through a network of hiking trails and off-grid cabins in most beautiful wilderness - is designed both in a spirit of aesthetics and circularity, with a view to protect nature and increase biodiversity, and contribute to local communities, environment and economy in an inclusive way for the benefit of all.
You can experience the power of adventure and reconnecting to nature without leaving a trace.
In relation to aesthetics and circularity, after years of development and testing, the result is a cabin that is completely self-sufficient and blends into its surroundings like a natural element. Details of circularity and sustainability of the cabins are included in other parts of this submission.
In relation to sustainability and reducing our footprint. The location of the cabin is always temporary and carefully chosen by the Forestry Commission and other local partners, and checked against regulations by various bodies. The cabin can only be reached on foot and can only be booked for a short stay. Further, all our meal packages are vegetable. The ingredients are local, organic and in season as much as possible.
We ensure nature also benefits from our presence, not only by disturbing nature as little as possible and leaving no traces behind, but also by making a concrete contribution to nature projects in the area. Part of revenue from each overnight stay go to a local project whether planting a new plot in the forest or restoring the ecosystem for rare animal species.
Local community engagement is key in terms of inclusion. By involving entrepreneurs and employees from the direct surroundings in the management of our concept and cabins, we connect the interests of the nature reserve and the local environment, with its communities and their diversity.
To protect nature and increase biodiversity, we directly invest part of revenue in the natural areas we operate in. Links with local and State forestry actors (Staatsbosbeheer in NL) are key to create impact, through win-win partnerships ensuring that more bookings and access to nature-based sustainable cabins (kept at low scale) lead to more biodiversity. In addition, guests who experience our nature-based tourism concept take this sustainable mindset home after their stay leading to more awareness, which ideally extend and are further applied to their daily life and surroundings.
The success of the concept responds to a societal need. In our societies, much time spent behind screens and driven by digital communication leads to a need to disconnect from screens and (re)connect with nature, as an antidote. The modern minimalist design of the cabin, that blends into its natural landscape, and the hiking journey to access the remote overnight location ensure that the connection with nature is optimal, and provides a unique offline, off-grid and reenergizing experience.
As mentioned, cabins are based on a self-sustained circular design, using cardboard as their main building material. Only accessible on foot, they are made to be part of their surroundings, as a natural element and without leaving a trace. The result is a robust structure with optimal insulation properties and an aesthetic appeal based on processed cardboard, inside wood and natural materials.
We ensure compliance with the strictest environmental standards. Each cabin is temporarily placed and after a few years, the cabin will leave its place, and an idyllic piece of forest will once again become the exclusive domain of the original forest inhabitants. No trace is left behind after relocation, and after its life span, all the materials of the cabin can be reused or sustainably dismantled.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.
Our cabins are located in nature reserves, around which people live and work. By involving people and companies from the direct surroundings, we connect the interests of the nature reserve and the local environment as well as support local economy.
Maintenance and cleaning of the cabins is done by local Cabiner teams. The meal packages optionally provided are sourced from local farmers and in season products, prepared by a partner organic supermarket.
Through a local sustainable approach, and long-term partnerships with public authorities, communities, actors and nature owners, Cabiner contributes to building a sense of community bringing together like-minded people around shared values and commitments for the future of society and nature.
We believe in the power of adventure in nature for human well-being and creativity. Those who experience this, feel empowered and connected. New ideas arise and objections disappear. This is exactly how the idea for Cabiner originated, from people in the middle of nature.
We want this experience to be accessible to as many people as possible through sustainable nature-based tourism, close to home. By achieving this, we want to show that creating a profitable sustainable company, protecting nature and positively impacting local economies go hand in hand.
By consolidating a network of hiking trails and cabins in and between the most beautiful natural areas across European countries, Cabiner wants to connect not only people and nature, but also nature reserves organisations with each other. The more national parks can be accessed and connected, the more citizens experience the adventure and value of nature and the greater the contribution to the development of these nature areas and their biodiversity.
Let’s go off-grid: this Cabiner motto responds to a societal demand, of great benefit to people well-being and nature surroundings, which is reflected in the success of the project across existing locations.
We are convinced that connecting people and nature, locally and close to home can be the beginning of a positive change. The experience of off-grid adventure and the power of nature makes many of us feel strengthened, reenergized and connected. The hiking trail journey to reach sustainable overnight cabin in wilderness allows for a unique escape close to home from the daily rush of life, pressures of work and everyday life, and overwhelming connection to screens and digital communication. It creates a slow-down and refocus experience back to the essential, which helps improve people’s balance and wellbeing in societies globally affected by trends of high pressure, stress and burnouts.
The experience of reconnection and slow life inspires people to pass on the impact nature has on them to their own environment and giving back. That is the beginning of the movement.
Naturally, the Cabiner concept primarily works to address the global urgency of climate change by offering innovative sustainable tourism option designed to reduce any form of footprint in a local environment.
The experience also inspires people how their behavior in using resources (electricity and water) for their stay can be done in a sustainable way and replicated in other places in their life.
Finally, Cabiner is also about doing business for the next generation. With the hiking network connecting circular cabins, we want to show that small-scale tourism, in harmony with the region and its communities, can have a positive impact on the areas where we are guests. We want to make that impact in 4 areas, as also mentioned in the 4-Returns framework: Nature, Financial, Inspiration, Social.
The hiking experience for overnight/s at Cabiner therefore sets something in motion. The more people can get to experience the impact of nature, the greater our collective impact can be, on nature, on the local environment and on communities and local actors, with their involvement and ownership.
Combining a hiking network in stunning natural areas with a network of self-sustained circular cabins made of cardboard is a groundbreaking concept. This unique approach is very successful in the Netherlands and is being rolled out, with equally promising prospects, to other European countries including Germany, Belgium and beyond (eg. Croatia and Italy).
The Cabins are designed as a natural element, part of their surroundings. Each cabin is temporarily placed thanks to its light construction, making it possible to be placed without a foundation, leaving no trace after relocation. Once the life span has expired, all the materials of the cabin can also be reused or sustainably dismantled.
All systems in the cabin are 'off-grid', operating without connection to public utilities. Power, water and heat are all generated and controlled by the cabin itself, waste is taken back by the visitor.
The inside of the cabin has been deliberately reduced to the essence, so that as a visitor you are brought into intuitive contact with the elements: water, earth, fire and light. The wood stove is the heart of the cabin and is used to heat the house. The fire also heats the shower water and cooks your evening meal. Thanks to the hand-operated pump you get groundwater for fresh drinking water. The water is then used for showers and toilets, the waste water is cleaned before it flows back into the ground. Power for lighting and ventilation system is generated by the roof solar panels.
The innovation combines the design of the cabin, with the off-grid technology allowing it to operate in remote areas. The Cabiner digital platform providing automatic check-in and check-out process, also proved safe in respect of public measures during COVID pandemic crisis. In addition, the use of IoT technology turns cabins into smart structures that allow easy accessibility for guests and send crucial functional data back to Cabiner ensuring safety and regular maintenance.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.
The success of Cabiner from its inception is a clear signal that its mission and ambition – connecting people and nature both in a spirit of aesthetics and circularity, and protecting nature and increasing biodiversity – responds to a demand of large part and diverse groups of our societies.
The results and learnings of first project experience initiated in the Netherlands are already contributing to Cabiner development and concept rolling out into new nature locations and sites across the country and in other European locations, including on cross-border areas (with concrete and promising prospects pursued at present in Germany, Belgium, and beyond possibly to Croatia and Italy).
Knowledge transfer and mutual learnings are largely achieved through building long-term partnerships and links with like-minded committed people, public authorities, nature reserves and owners as a central principle in Cabiner approach. Our participation to range of cooperation for a and links – such as connecting to inspiring models and actors through the New European Bauhaus initiative or to Rewilding Europe networks - provide a unique potential for mutual learning and transferability of experience with stakeholders, whilst jointly contributing to Europe's green, inclusive and sustainable agenda.
We are in the process of setting up a connected not-for-profit volunteer organization to enable our partners and supporters to make a direct impact, aiding in the planting of trees and engaging in nature protection programmes.
From spring 2022, we launch regular Cabiner Collective days: www.cabiner.com/collective.
Cabiner innovation for nature-based tourism, through circular and beautifully designed cabins blended in natural landscape, is being used to inspire other hospitality brands on how to transition to a more sustainable business model.
The digital assets being built are also leading the digital transformation of the hotel industry: www.mews.com/en/customers/cabiner
Content licensed to the European Union.