Mariana de Delás revitalizes an old stone hut, devising a portable “solar wheelbarrow” to recharge its batteries.
Before it was the 12 Volt Retreat, this simple stone hut was just one of dozens of shelters scattered throughout the Mallorcan countryside: a place for a hunter or shepherd to retreat from a storm, prepare a meal, or store tools. Built with the island’s native marés sandstone and outfitted with only a couple chairs and a fireplace, it was meant to be used for just a few hours at a time.
As part of a pilot program to repurpose these disused sheds, Spanish multidisciplinary studio Mariana de Delás has turned the structure into a weekend escape that’s refreshingly simple and surprisingly stylish.
With a Mediterranean pine forest on one side and a rock quarry on the other, the tiny stone shelter with its tile roof has a rough-hewn authenticity, even with its tidy renovation and fresh green paint on the door and shutters.
Indeed, viewing the cabin from outside, the only hint of de Delás’s intervention is the new rear window of red steel and glass that opens onto the quarry—a striking contrast against the old stone.
Sunlight streams in through the large bay window, designed and manufactured in collaboration with Mallorcan studio 2Monos, to illuminate the 160-square-foot space. "The window changes all the inside experience," says de Delás, making the single room feel "brighter, bigger, and more connected with the natural world." It also provides cross-ventilation and a place to perch indoors.
Committed to sustainability, as well as fire safety in such a dry area, the team limited energy use to low-voltage, rechargeable batteries. The lights and fans use 9-volt batteries, while laptops, the water pump, and other heavier load components use a 12-volt motorcycle battery.
Wanting to take advantage of solar power, de Delás was initially stymied by the dense shade from the surrounding pine and olive trees—but then got creative. The team devised a "solar roller," which is essentially a solar panel fixed to a wheelbarrow that allows the user to track the sun throughout the day; this also creates a morning ritual around recharging the retreat’s portable batteries. De Delás calls it "a prototype for portable energy."
The team felt freed by the simplicity of the renovations. "We were working towards a ‘weekend livable standard,"’ de Delás says, noting the differences between a temporary and longer-term home. Here, the "kitchen" is a small gas stove. A fireplace heats the diminutive hut, and water comes from a rain-catchment system and a well.
Nonetheless, the work took time: Partly because of the artistic care that went into the project, and partly because the team relied on battery-powered tools.
De Delás’s lighthearted approach to practicality gives the retreat a jolt of energy. The studio has been freshly whitewashed, and this neutral background emphasizes the rustic nature of the dwelling. Echoing the steel window, red accents inject a sense of humor without overpowering the quiet mood. Other touches—a few books on the built-in shelves, a blue-tipped, paper-thin ceiling fan—make the temporary retreat feel grounded and inviting.
Custom built-ins and furnishings made with marés stone perfectly fit the space, maximizing practicality while establishing a bond between interior and exterior. The stools, for example, are made of raw slabs of marés on red steel bases, and the team explored different cuts to create the daybed and outdoor table.