With travel plans disrupted by COVID-19 and usually bustling resorts refining safety protocols for a pandemic-adapted ski season, a snowy holiday at the slopes may be tricky to navigate this year—but that won’t keep us from dreaming of fresh powder. For now, we’ll make do by taking a mental vacation to the wintry retreats below.
Home to Whitefish Mountain Resort and neighboring Glacier National Park, the town of Whitefish, Montana, is where French photographers and outdoor enthusiasts Alex Strohl and Andrea Dabene have built their dream house with the help of Montana Creative architecture + design. Formed by two gable sections on either side of a central living area, it’s available to rent while the couple tackle another nearby project. Look out for a soaking tub, light fixtures from Schoolhouse Electric, and ceramic tiles in colors that mirror the surrounding foliage.
As president of Portland, Oregon–based Schoolhouse Electric, the custom lighting manufacturer and lifestyle goods purveyor, Sara Fritsch has an innate sense of style. For her family’s chalet—the handiwork of Keystone Architecture Planning & Project Management, Ethan Beck Homes, and Casework—mirroring the Dutch social philosophy of gezellig was key. "We wanted to capture the cozy," says Fritsch. "Gezellig is something that attracts people, encourages them to gather and stay a while." The black brick fireplace, accompanied by fur throws, floor cushions, and a bespoke floral sectional inspired by one of Dutch artist Jan Davidszoon de Heem’s still life paintings, heightens that welcoming aura.
Nossenhaus, a 17th-century stone-and-timber structure, desperately needed a revival, and Jonathan Tuckey of Jonathan Tuckey Design, in collaboration with architect Ruedi Kreienbühl, came to the rescue. First, newer additions like exterior shingles and gable dormers were stripped away. Now, it’s spruced up with an energy-efficient roof covered in wood tiles and larch planks wherever original timber couldn’t be salvaged. "We said, ‘Let’s put in something that’s unashamedly of its time, and it will develop the patina of age just as the original materials have done,'" explains Tuckey.
Situated on a steep site, the Gilbert House, by Evoke International Design, is clad in concrete and matte black cedar. By contrast, the interiors are brighter, with floors, walls, and ceilings planked with pale oak. The spare layout and edited material palette are intentional, according to Evoke founding partner David Nicolay: "Using only one type of material on the inside pares back distraction. We are almost creating a kind of tunnel with the materials, so that the eye focuses on the view." Another stand-out element is the cantilevered upper floor, which allows for a terrace.
"We chose this spot because it was the most exposed to the sunset," says Nick Dignard. "We get really great sunsets here." Available for rental, the low-key La Cabin Ride & Sleep, situated on high Mont Tourbillon in the vacation community of Le Maelström, is a project passion for Dignard, a photo and video producer—and avid cyclist—and his wife Marie-Catherine P. Émond of M4 Architecture. While Émond designed the 16-by-16-foot dwelling, showcasing window openings on the roof, Nick took on much of the construction himself, crafting the dining table, stump chairs, loft ladder, kitchen cabinets, and suspended wood plank ceiling lights.
Forty-five minutes from Lillehammer, Norway, a ski base made famous by the 1994 Winter Olympics, Casper and Lexie Mork-Ulnes, the couple behind Mork Ulnes Architects, have crafted Skigard Hytte, an unconventional log cabin. Raised on columns and featuring a roof swathed in sod and grass as a nod to Scandinavian tradition, the structure is clad in skigard, a split-rail construction method typically reserved for farm fences. "We liked the idea of this meticulous craft," says Casper. "It’s rough but it’s tidy." An oculus skylight and antique Norwegian farm table and chairs extend the rustic atmosphere indoors.
Full-height sliding glass doors connect the surrounding mountains to The Lookout House, which is topped with a fire-resistant steel plate roof and anchored by large, 20-foot-long insulated concrete walls. Although the abode favors a cool, crisp aesthetic over a traditional ski cabin vernacular, warmth is found in the radiant-heated basalt floors and a central red-tinted glass column that pairs with mustard yellow and light blue, evoking the American Southwest. In the kitchen, modular shelving and a monolithic, sandblasted stainless-steel island reinforce the home’s forward-thinking design.
The first of numerous Passive House-designed structures in Delta Land Development’s forthcoming eco-friendly enclave in British Columbia features a number of thoughtful measures from Perkins & Wills, like a steel roof to withstand heavy snowfall, solar panels, and wool insulated walls. Locally harvested Douglas fir clads the interior, mixing with hickory flooring, alternatives to carbon-heavy steel, glass, and concrete. Prefabricated and assembled on site, the layout of the Passive House structure also stars a commodious outdoor deck. Ultimately, it’s a home that "involves being more considerate of energy efficiency, health and wellness, and minimizing your carbon footprint," says Delta Land Development president Bruce Langereis.
At Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel, guests love to sleep in the property’s geodesic dome-shaped tents dubbed "pods." But now Montalba Architects has added another type of freestanding accommodation to the mix: low-impact, prefabricated larch-clad chalets. Currently there are three—there are plans for 21 in total—and all are pared down, with polished concrete flooring and space divided into active day and peaceful night zones. When all the chalets are complete, says the firm’s founding principal David Montalba, it "will give the image of a mountain village that blends seamlessly into the sloping landscape while mirroring the traditional chalet villages found nearby."
To maximize the compact space, architect and designer Elizabeth Herrmann opted for materials like locally harvested and milled ash wood throughout. She also focused on the experiential aspects, incorporating open shelving, a wood-fired stove, and large windows that capture different shifts in the landscape. "It can sometimes be very like the textures and colors of its surroundings—the siding mimics tree bark and shadows, and sometimes blends into the woods. At other times, especially winter, the house really contrasts with the landscape’s snowy ground," Herrmann says. Bonus: The cabin is energy-efficient, outfitted with R5 windows and a wall-hung heat pump.
According to Naturehumaine’s principal architect Stéphane Rasselet, this forest cabin is a "pure and somewhat abstract white volume characterized by a series of vertical slits for windows and doors all blending harmoniously within an immaculate winter blanket of snow. The house magically blends into the trees and becomes whole with the site." Walls and ceilings are painted white to match the exterior and the seasonal natural environment. Contrasting with the neutral canvas are Shalwin tilt and turn aluminum windows as well as integrated storage units and cabinetry fashioned from maple veneer, raw concrete, and ceramic tiles.
"The shape of the building is both a dialogue with the close natural formations, but also with the larger landscape. Its functional aspects create privacy and indoor/outdoor connections to different zones around the building," says Snore Stinessen of this dynamic glass cabin on Norway's Hallvardøy Island. Overlooking the fjord and mountains, the year-round home, for a couple with deep ties to the secluded area, comprises two volumes. In the smaller of them is the open-plan living area wrapped in birch veneer and the den, which features a sculptural riser staircase. Bedrooms and the sauna, lined in hygroscopic aspen slats, are found in the larger one.
To navigate such a steep rocky site in northern Italy, GEZA forged two interconnected gable volumes that step down the existing slope. They are clad in concrete and wrapped in a wood screen that conjures the alpine vernacular. "From the outside, the house seems to ‘slip’ on the ground—the ground is inclined and fluid, and the house is light and does not impose terraces or other violent works on the landscape. From the inside, the volume of the living area is defined by an impressive exposed concrete roof, which follows the slanting of the two volumes with different heights. It seems to enter the mountain," explain the architects. Serizzo white granite and dark gray-painted European oak juxtaposed with Swiss pine add further visual interest to the interior.
Simple materials are at the heart of this 100% energy-efficient cabin, which is assembled from vertically laid fir planks and capped in a mere sheet of folded stainless steel. Still, it stands out. A large pitched-top door and a small pitched-top window are cut out from each of the four sides of the exterior walls. "Only the ridge of the two-sided roof directs the house. Otherwise, the chalet does not have a specific address or entrance; or rather, it benefits from four different ones," explains Frundgallina co-founder Antonio Gallina. "Accordingly, one enters and exits most of the rooms from and to the outdoors, integrating the pastures as a spatial sequence."
Slovakia’s mountainous terrain lends itself well to skiing. This yurt-style cabin is an hour from the Pezinská Baba resort outside the capital, Bratislava. Clad in black plastic film and surrounded in a lattice frame when the owners are away, its rectangular shape belies the circular floor plan indoors. Sparsely furnished, it’s a soothing space warmed by a dome skylight and features built-in alcove seating, a wood-fired stove, and a bedroom tucked away by a curtain. To further maintain the uncluttered living space, wooden doors can conceal the kitchen, and bunk beds can easily hide in a louvered closet.
Set in a forest near Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes, well known for the Devil’s Elbow ski area, this steeply pitched, two-story structure designed by UUFIE is wrapped in cedar siding charred by the shou sugi ban technique and crowned in a 23-foot-tall black steel roof. The most striking part of the design is that the cabin is partially sheathed in camouflaging one-way mirror glass. When it gets too cold on the terrace covered in log-end flooring, the living area, with its 14 recessed windows—half of them magnifying the landscape, half offering sightlines to peripheral rooms—provides serenity.
Related Reading: 35 Magical Tiny Cabins to Pin to Your Mood Board Immediately
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