Weihnacht Huts

Architect: Nikolov Architecture and Design

Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Category One: Up to $150,000 in construction costs

These transportable, easily deconstructed huts are an experiment in pragmatic structural and material design, and through their logical organization and protoarchitectural form invite the possibility of multiple readings.


The Christmas Committee of Bethlehem’s Downtown Business Association requested the pro bono design of 35 new Christmas huts to display arts and crafts at the year’s authentic German Weihnachtsmarkt (open-air Christmas market), also known as Christmas City Village. Bethlehem’s Christmas City Village is located in the historic downtown shopping district along Main Street. It features 35 wooden huts dressed for the holidays and filled with Christmas gift ideas to the background of scheduled entertainment, bratwurst, and gluhwein.

"Each hut is a well-designed small gesture that, together, make a big impact." ~ Jury comment

The 1997 film Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is filmmaker Errol Morris’s dark and funny contemplation of the Sisyphus-like nature of human striving. In uncanny ways, it epitomizes an enduring pairing in architectural criticism: low-concept design and the disdain for the one-line summary, which often is anything but. This project is an experiment in pragmatic structural and material design, and through its logical organization and protoarchitectural form invites the possibility of multiple readings.

"While alluding to the form and genre of the typical shack at a traditional German Christmas market, the Weihnacht Huts present a contemporary, cost-effective, and clever solution to the need to provide shelter, identity, and flexibility,within a standardized design." ~ Jury comment

The huts feature a steeply sloped roof designed for snowfall and a ridge-line borrowed from traditional Moravian vernacular. The challenge is unique in that there is an extremely limited budget for materials, but also the structures must be taken apart and stored every year. The deck, walls, and roof are constructed as single units to be taken apart, transported, and flat-stored with ease by a crew of two. Only screws are used for simple fastening. The poly-carbonate roof is not only easy to dissemble but also allows for a large amount of light and creates warmth inside during a cold winter’s day. At night, the huts are illuminated from within and emit a lovely glow to add to the magical Christmas atmosphere of Bethlehem’s historic district.

Additional information

Architect: Nik Nikolov, AIA

General Contractor: Dan Lechner, Lechner Homes Inc

Electrical: West Side Hammer Electric


2016 Small Projects Awards Jury

Marika Snider, AIA (Chair), Snider Architecture, Beavercreek, Ohio

Will Bruder, FAIA, Will Bruder Architects, Phoenix

Mira Locher, FAIA, Kajika Architecture PLLC, Salt Lake City

Elizabeth Ranieri, FAIA, Kuth Ranieri, San Francisco

Jonathan Tate, Office Jonathan Tate, New Orleans

Image credits

Weihnacht Huts 1

Nik Nikolov

Weihnacht Huts 2

Nik Nikolov

Weihnacht Huts 3

Nik Nikolov