This Egg-Shaped Cabin Provides Shelter for Arctic Circle Travelers

A 150-square-foot cabin gives hikers a comfortable place to rest and recharge in the rugged mountains of Hammerfest, Norway.

In the mountains of Northern Norway, the unspoiled beauty of the natural landscape remains largely inaccessible to many would-be travelers due to the challenging terrain and harsh climate. This accessibility barrier prompted the Norwegian Trekking Association to develop a series of compact "daytrip" cabins to encourage exploration of the scenic region.

Simply appointed, the Hammerfest Cabin provides the basic need of shelter in an innovative geometric shell.

The Hammerfest Cabin is perched high atop a rocky slope.

The Norwegian Trekking Association collaborated with SPINN Architects and Format Engineers to design the first prototype of the Hammerfest Cabin. Individual hexagonal and pentagonal panels come together to form the cabin’s oblong envelope, a unique architectural skin that mimics the rock formations that surround it.

Fitting in seamlessly with the fabric of the natural landscape, the cabin makes a modest impact in scale, while providing a functional benefit to travelers in the region.

The small cabin's cross-laminated timber (CLT) shell, composed of 72 unique wooden panels, is designed to withstand severe arctic storms and heavy wind conditions.

Sticking to the basics, the tiny cabin's interior includes bench seating, tables, and a fireplace. Natural, untreated pine makes up the interior shell, adding warmth and cohesion to the compact space. A dramatic picture window at one end of the structure allows panoramic views to take center stage and encourages restorative moments of serenity and reflection.

Embedded in the mountainous region of Hammerfest, the compact cabin is a pit stop for hikers passing through the challenging Norwegian terrain.

The cabin's cozy interior contains benches, tables, and a fireplace for travelers to warm up and recharge. The picture window frames panoramic views of the valley below.

The exterior cladding is made of Kebony, a sustainable treated wood product. The company uses heat and natural chemicals to give softwoods, such as pine, enhanced strength and durability. The timber product is sustainably sourced and nearly maintenance-free—a huge benefit in an environment where weathering and wear can be drastic.

Over time, Kebony develops a silver-grey natural patina with exposure to sun and moisture. The metallic sheen is similar in appearance to the natural rock formations which surround the cabin.

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Throughout the cabin's development and construction, the design team sought to respect the natural landscape and create as small an impact as possible. In addition to designing a compact footprint—the cabin is only 150 square feet—the team was mindful of utilizing sustainable building materials. 

For the exterior cladding, they chose Kebony, a durable and sustainable enhanced wood product developed in Norway. Kebony sources FSC-certified wood (varying pine species from Sweden and New Zealand) and heats it with furfuryl alcohol, an agricultural byproduct. The end result is a softwood with the strength and durability of a tropical hardwood—with a much smaller carbon footprint. 

Organic pentagonal and hexagonal panels, varying in size, come together to form the cabin's exterior envelope.

The unique geometric design was the result of both aesthetic and functional considerations. The bold, eye-catching cabin has already become an attraction in of itself among travelers in the region.

The cabin's faceted, geometric shell is specifically designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. The structure underwent rigorous wind and snow simulations before any construction on the mountain began.

The overall construction cost of the Hammerfest Cabin was about €100,000, including many hours of volunteer work.

The Hammerfest Cabin is the first of several concept cabins in an innovative series. The second cabin, planned for late 2019, will be built on Tyven—a mountain on the other side of Hammerfest.

"We are delighted to see that our ambition to create this innovative sanctuary for adventurers has been realized," says James Dodson of SPINN Architects. "We hope that the cabin will continue to be enjoyed and will encourage more people to visit the stunning location in the future."

While perched at the peak of the mountain, adventurous travelers are rewarded with unparalleled views of the region's breathtaking natural scenery.

An innovative experiment in public architecture, the tiny cabin widens the opportunity for access in a climate and terrain that is as challenging as it is beautiful. The cozy shelter, through its thoughtful design and practical use, is a welcome respite for adventurous travelers in this remote, but uniquely inspiring, corner of the world.

Related Reading: 101 Best Modern Cabins, Dwell’s Top 10 Cabins of 2018

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: SPINN Architects / @spinnarkitekter

Builder: Hammerfest og Omegn Turlag

Engineer: Format Engineers / @formatengineers

CLT Fabricator: Aanesland Fabrikker / @aaneslandfabrikker

Wooden Cladding: Kebony / @KebonyWood


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