These Nordic A-Frame Cabins Offer Thrilling Treetop Views
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These Nordic A-Frame Cabins Offer Thrilling Treetop Views

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Inspired by Nordic folklore and fire towers that dot the surrounding forests, PAN Treetop Cabins by architect Espen Surnevik make for a fairy-tale holiday.

In the 16th century, immigrants from Finland settled in the forests of Finnskogen in Eastern Norway, creating a rich, pan-Nordic culture full of myth and folklore. Now, visitors can experience the region’s magic while staying in the PAN Treetop Cabins, two A-frame structures at 431-square-feet each, created by architect Espen Surnevik.

A pull-down dining table makes the most of the cabins' 431 square feet. A sleeping area can be glimpsed above.

A pull-down dining table makes the most of the cabins' 431 square feet. A sleeping area can be glimpsed above.

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Owned by Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel, the cabins perch 26 feet above the ground on steel poles sunk 20 feet deep into the bedrock below, providing stability when strong winds blow. Surenvik, who is also a professor at The Oslo School of Architecture, took inspiration from the region, and specifically from the comic strip by Finnish artist Tove Jansson featuring fairy-tale characters called the Moomins.

The cabins have exterior cladding of black oxidized zinc and steel, helping them blend into the surrounding forest.

The cabins have exterior cladding of black oxidized zinc and steel, helping them blend into the surrounding forest.

"Jansson’s texts and drawings define a whole mythology created around the Nordic view on nature and the Finnish forests," says Surnevik. "For me, it represents a genuine feeling of how the Nordic individual relates to the long distances between settlements in rural Scandinavia, the loneliness, the dark winters, and the cold climate."

The cabins are equipped with electricity and water for a convenient and comfortable stay.

The cabins are equipped with electricity and water for a convenient and comfortable stay.

A spiral staircase, inspired by fire lookout towers, leads up to the A-frame cabin.

A spiral staircase, inspired by fire lookout towers, leads up to the A-frame cabin.

His second source of inspiration, apparent in the design of a spiral staircase that leads up to the cabin, is the fire lookout tower, which Surnevik says is a part of the landscape in the forest belt that surrounds the northern hemisphere. "These fire towers are built to overlook the huge forests in search of smoke and fire in the dry seasons," he says. 

Architect Espen Surnevik chose the American typology of the A-frame lodge because it is "both intimate in its width and monumental in its height, and represented something basic with its triangular shape."

Architect Espen Surnevik chose the American typology of the A-frame lodge because it is "both intimate in its width and monumental in its height, and represented something basic with its triangular shape."

The treetop cabins also reference the American, A-frame lodge. "I was in search of structural form for the cabins. Something that was not just freestanding and good-looking, but with a volumetry that had primal clarity and constructive significance," says Surnevik, who choose the A-frame because "it is both intimate in its width and monumental in its height, and represented something basic with its triangular shape." 

A bridge leads from the top of the spiral stairs to the front door of the cabin.

A bridge leads from the top of the spiral stairs to the front door of the cabin.

Each cabin has interiors that are 28 feet long, 18 feet high, and 12 feet wide, and can comfortably accommodate up to six people.

A pull out-green bench can serve as a sleeping area. The energy-efficient cabins face the sun and feature large, glazed facades that draw in light and warmth.

A pull out-green bench can serve as a sleeping area. The energy-efficient cabins face the sun and feature large, glazed facades that draw in light and warmth.

The program includes a mezzanine with a double bed, additional sleeping areas that are concealed within the interior walls, a small kitchenette and fireplace, and a bathroom with a toilet and shower. 

The interiors are lined with pinewood, and textiles within the cabins are made of 100-percent local wool.

The interiors are lined with pinewood, and textiles within the cabins are made of 100-percent local wool.

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A wood-burning stove squats by the ladder that leads to the sleeping loft. Electrical heating are incorporated into the wood floors.

A wood-burning stove squats by the ladder that leads to the sleeping loft. Electrical heating are incorporated into the wood floors.

"My vision was to create something that would easily settle into the landscape without making a big change in the surrounding nature. The forest itself has been the biggest source of inspiration, but also the North American A-lodges, modern power line constructions, and the houses of the Moomin characters," says Surnevik.

The sleeping loft feels snug, and offers a peek over the treetops.

The sleeping loft feels snug, and offers a peek over the treetops.

The bathroom is lined in green mosaic tiles.

The bathroom is lined in green mosaic tiles.

PAN Treetop cabin drawing

PAN Treetop cabin drawing

PAN Treetop Cabin sectional drawing

PAN Treetop Cabin sectional drawing

PAN Treetop Cabin floor plan

PAN Treetop Cabin floor plan

Book your stay at the PAN Treetop Cabins

Related Reading: 11 Alluring A-Frame Homes You Can Rent Right Now

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Espen Surnevik  / @espen.surnevik

Builder: Terje Nymoen AS 

Civil Engineer: Finn-Erik Nilsen 

Steel Construction: Armec AS