You Can Rent This Floating Cabin That Cruises the Waterways of the Norwegian Wilderness

The tiny accommodation sluices old logging routes of the Halden Canal, letting visitors bask in the region’s beauty.

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In the past few years, Oslo, Norway, has opened up a bevy of eye-catching institutions. Among them are the National Museum of Norway, the Munch Museum, and the Deichman Bjørvika, a public library, all of which are chock-full of cultural curios that make them worthy of a spot on even the shortest itineraries. For those planning a longer trip—or just strategizing a dedicated strike mission—plenty more has been unfolding beyond city limits, like remote hiking cabins, retreats perched above a fjord, and a restaurant that looks like it’s sinking into the ocean.

Flo is a floating, off-grid cabin located on the Halden Canal in Norway, an area steeped in logging history. The 323-square-foot accommodation is limited in size, but it’s portable plan provides unlimited vantages of the woods and water.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

More recently, in a rural area about an hour outside of Oslo, a group of small municipalities is eager to share their slice of Norwegian wilderness and history with the world. Enter Flo, a rentable off-grid cabin floating on the Halden Canal, Norway’s oldest waterway. Together with the Halden Canal Regional Park, STRÅ cofounder Anders Byng Strøm and Laureen Putzolu of Studio OSMA designed the on-water accommodation to introduce newcomers to the area’s natural beauty and rich logging history.

"[The idea] was to use architecture as a way to reach out to more people, or perhaps a different segment," says Strøm, who grew up nearby. "There’s been a lot of treetop cabins and experiential architectural concepts done over the last few years, but this project was an opportunity to create a different overnight experience based more on the qualities of the region."

The cabin is moored at different locations around the canal throughout the year.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

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Despite the last timber being floated through the canal in 1982, the logging industry left an indelible mark on the area. For more than 600 years, the surrounding waterways were used for transporting logs. Built between 1852 and 1860, the Halden Canal played a critical role in the trade. Its restoration in recent years allows visitors to journey across the watercourse, traversing three locks and five lakes. Like the timber before it, the cabin’s 322-square-foot plan is designed to be sluiced through the locks and moved around the waterways.

Located in southeastern Norway, the Halden Canal Regional Park where the cabin floats was established in 2012 to enhance and promote the long-term development of the surrounding towns, which include Marker, Aremark, Halden, and Aurskog-Høland. The canal lies at the heart of the region and now acts as a venue for a range of outdoor and cultural activities; over the past decade, the Halden Canal Regional Park has overseen 14 projects with these aims.

A deck provides outdoor space, whether tethered to a mooring or adrift in the canal.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

Rustic bakhon-style spruce cladding creates a visual connection with the area’s past logging activity.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

The idea for a floating cabin originated in a concept study by Snøhetta in 2019. With a construction cost of roughly $112,500 donated by national banks, Flo is an experiment that its constituents hope can be developed into a larger concept that can bolster tourism to the area.

The cabin’s design makes a compelling case for a visit. A rectangular base rests atop a floating element, with the diagonal lines of a reverse-pitched roof drawing the eye toward the vast expanse of the surroundings. Inside, the roofline delineates two living zones, separating the social gathering space and kitchen from the private sleeping alcove and bathroom. Built-in furniture makes the interiors look snug.

FLO is composed of a rectangular base, a spruce exterior, and a butterfly roof—all of which rests on a floating element.

Photo by Thurston Empson

A 360-degree fireplace, built by local tradespeople, serves as a functional and aesthetic centerpiece.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

The sleeping area features a cozy, sunken bed.

Photo by Thurston Empson

Spruce wood construction pays homage to the area’s logging history. The exterior boasts a rustic, bakhon-style facade in rough, split-wood ends that nod to the timber once carried through the canal. Sunlight filters through the slats, illuminating the sleek application of wood throughout the cabin's smooth interior. Untreated wood clads the ceiling and floors, reflecting an unpretentious and cost-effective approach.

Designers Byng Strøm and Laureen Putzolu, who have both worked internationally, agree that smaller projects outside the city allow for more experimentation. "You can skip a little bit of the bureaucracy that you have in big cities. It’s a shorter way from idea to decision," says Strøm.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

FLO is a prototype of sorts—and a successful one at that—with potential ambitions for more cabins to come pending funding.

Photo by Jan Khür + Abrakadabra Studio

The interior’s focal point is a black fireplace built by local craftspeople. Its circular form encourages gathering, while its floating flume accommodates a griddle, ideal for the adept angler looking to grill the day’s catch. Those looking to try their hand—or just relax in a remarkable setting—can book a two night stay. And while the cabin’s anchorage may vary from season to season, the setting and its rich history aren’t going anywhere.

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