A Pinwheel-Shaped Cabin in Norway Is a Fresh Take on the Traditional Hytte
With over a quarter of all Norwegians owning at least one "hytte"—a countryside cottage—it seemed only fitting that the American geologist Scott Young finally take part in the cultural tradition, having moved his family to Oslo seven years ago.
After locking down a hilltop location just an hour north of the city, Scott and his wife Christine Griffin Young handed the design reins over to San Francisco– and Oslo–based Mork Ulnes Architects, who reworked the traditional hytte typology into a 940-square-foot timber cabin. Called Mylla Hytte, the outpost melds the compact and efficient nature of its predecessors with an airy, contemporary feel.
The architects’ departure from the traditional Norwegian hytte—which can often feel cramped and primitive—began with the rejection of the typical single-gable, rectangular form in favor of a pinwheel plan with four shed roofs that radiate out towards the landscape. The unconventional plan had the added benefit of allowing for a free-flowing layout that fits three bedrooms and two full bathrooms without compromising privacy.
"The pinwheel plan and sloping roof form is derived from the climate, the desire to separate the bedrooms for privacy, and to offer contrasting views from each room," explains principal Casper Mork-Ulnes. "In that sense, the building is a very straightforward response to its context, while at the same time generating a unique experience."
In another nod to context, the architects wrapped the exterior in untreated heart pine, which will gradually develop a handsome silvery patina to blend in with the winter landscape. The use of timber continues indoors, mostly finished in pine plywood treated with lye and white oil.
The kitchen occupies the heart of the home, while the three bedrooms and the great room radiate out in different directions.
Each wing of the house enjoys views of four distinct landscape features. The open-plan living and dining area overlooks Mylla Lake; the guest room looks towards the rolling hills; the kids’ bunk room looks up at the sky; and the master bedroom looks out to the towering pine forest.
"The cabin is so small, we wanted to make things as multipurpose as possible," explains architect Lexie Mork-Ulnes, who has over a decade of experience in product and furniture design.
Space-saving furniture can be found throughout the home: the kitchen island doubles as a bench for the dining table, while the children’s playroom can be found atop the bathroom volume. Hidden storage is integrated in most of the large furnishings. The sofa for eight can transform into two beds, making it possible for the Youngs to accommodate up to six guests.
Mylla Hytte also includes a small, 172-square-foot annex housing a two-person sauna as well as space for ski waxing and bike and ski storage.
Architect of Record: Mork Ulnes Architects
General Contractor: Kreativ Hus