Imagine you could have a beautifully designed and luxurious tiny house, install it wherever you want or are able to in less than a day, and enjoy nature glamorously with all the comforts of city life while knowing that you are minimally harming the environment?
That, in a nutshell, is the promise of Nomad Cabins. Founded in Bulgaria in 2021, the company designs and manufactures high-end modular tiny houses, based on the cradle-to-cradle principle, which means that at the end of the product’s lifecycle, it should be able to maximally biodegrade on its own if disposed of in nature.
As we walk around the recently completed first finished Nomad Cabin, currently installed in front of IKEA Sofia, and open for the public to visit during IKEA opening hours through November 15, Nina Manchorova, the CEO and founder of Nomad Cabins says: “in architecture, cradle-to-cradle is a really hard principle. I mean, who wants to think of how the house will fall apart when they’re buying it new?”
Nina is no stranger to difficulties and contradictions. After finishing high school in her native Plovdiv, Bulgaria, she enrolled into the University of Bath in the UK, where she obtained her bachelor degree in architecture. Having worked on several landmark projects like the British Museum reconstruction and the building of the Louvre repository in Paris, she landed a job with an architecture studio in Spain, and never thought she’d be moving back to Bulgaria within just a few years.
“I was having the time of my life with the firm in Madrid”, Nina says as she shows me around the inside of the cabin. “We worked on several really interesting and challenging projects, and then something came along that really captivated me. A client wanted to set up an entire neighborhood on the Costa Blanca in Spain, made of modular, high-end, ready-made container houses.”
This was in 2019. A year later, Covid happened and changed everything, and the project got put on hold. Nina, like millions of other people faced with the opportunity of remote work, decided to spend more time closer to loved ones and nature, and moved to Bulgaria for the summer. And that’s when it hit her; why wait for the modular house project to happen, or not, when she could go and try doing the work she really believes in, by herself and for herself?
And that’s how Nomad Cabins got started. Combining work on designing the first prototype of the cabin with freelance work for architectural firms in Sofia, Nina started building a network of interested architects, engineers, and suppliers for her dream product.
“Like most products, an entire house cannot be 100% cradle-to-cradle”, she says. “But with Nomad Cabins, we are proud we ended up with a design where the windows and the steel frame on which the cabin is built are the only bits you need to recycle.”
Once the modular designs were ready, the much harder work of finding an engineering and construction team, suitable suppliers, and a place where to assemble the prototype came along. Stumbling upon a derelict warehouse on the grounds where once Europe’s largest power steel plant used to stand, the monstrous Kremikovtsi plant on the outskirts of Sofia, Nina knew this was the place where the first Nomad Cabin would see the light of day.
Today, the future looks bright for Nomad Cabins. With a team that consists of Nina, architects Toska and Vladimir, and engineers Vitan and Vesselin, the old Kremikovtsi warehouse is bustling with energy. After the IKEA showcase started last week, thousands of people have stopped in amazement on the parking lot in front of the store, and inquiries on models and prices have started pouring in.
“It’s interesting how the Covid pandemic changed the perspective on glamping-style tiny houses”, says Nina. “Many companies have been launched in the past years, and some of their products are truly stunning, but with Nomad Cabins we believe that we can become the leaders of the segment that focuses not only on design but also on sustainability.”
And that’s the angle that we really believe in as well at Vitosha. After the initial launch in Bulgaria, we can see how Nina’s international experience and outlook can take the company to become a player on the European and worldwide market in sustainable, ready-made houses.
If you’re in Sofia and curious, you can check out Nomad Cabins for yourself until November 15, 2023 in front of the main entrance of IKEA Sofia: Nina and members of the Nomad Cabins team are there every day and will be happy to show you the beautiful cabin inside and out: