A Matte Black Cabin Steps Down the Steep Slopes of Norway’s Stokkøya Island
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A Matte Black Cabin Steps Down the Steep Slopes of Norway’s Stokkøya Island

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By Lucy Wang
On the windswept Norwegian island of Stokkøya, a holiday cabin built from local timber connects deeply to the landscape.

When a couple with three young children asked Kappland Arkitekter to design an island retreat on a steeply sloping plot, the Oslo-based architects didn’t just rise to the challenge—they created a home that fully embraces the tricky terrain.

"The building follows the terrain and forms a stepped unit on the hillside, creating several levels, both indoors and outdoors," explain the architects. "The goal was to preserve the way one moves up and down the steep hillside indoors—to preserve the relationship with the site and its characteristics."

Stepping down the landscape from east to west, the timber cabin takes in sweeping views of the open sea on one side and the dramatic hills on the other. Large glazed openings and an all-timber palette further blur the line between indoors and out.

The design of the roofline matches the slope of the site.

The terraced design of the 904-square-foot cabin places the open-plan living area on the property’s raised side to the east and the sleeping areas downslope.

At either end of the linear volume are two additions that extend toward the north and south sides: a raised "loft box" and a lower-elevation "rest box." These flexible rooms can be adapted to serve as extra bedrooms, workrooms, or playrooms. "This way, one can experience climbing and descending the slope—both indoors and outdoors," add the architects.  

Large walls of glass frame sea views throughout the building. This view of the open-plan living area looks toward the north; the elevated loft box is to the right, while the rest box is placed a few steps down to the far left, opposite the bedrooms.

A daybed with integrated storage takes up almost the entire footprint of the rest box on the southwest side of the home.

"The shape of the building defines two outdoor spaces that can be used during different sun and wind conditions," explain the architects. "At the back, an outdoor space is formed by the slope and the building. Here, one can enjoy the morning sun and at the same time be protected from the westerly winds."

Since the sloped site had low vegetation and limited natural shelter, the architects designed the building’s shape to help shield the outdoor decks from the wind.

In addition to maximizing enjoyment of the landscape, the Stokkøya Cabin emphasizes low-impact design both physically and visually. Appearing to float above the landscape, the deliberately compact cabin rests atop piles at the front and a concrete slab at the rear for minimal site impact.

The facade is clad in dark Norwegian royal impregnated wood to make the building recede into the landscape, and locally sourced timber is also used throughout the interior and for the outdoor deck.

The dark timber cladding helps the building recede into the landscape.

The cabin is accessed via a walking trail on the north side of the site.

To subtly break up the interior’s all-timber palette, the architects used a mix of Norwegian birch planks and panels that vary in thickness and direction to delineate the active and quiet zones in the home.

The project celebrates local Norwegian craft and materials. The living room holds an Outline sofa by Norwegian designers Anderssen & Voll for Muuto.

The custom-built staircase from the living room to the loft box is integrated with a wood stove and storage for firewood.

Located a few steps above the living room, the loft box connects to an outdoor deck with views of the hills to the north.

"In order to effectively utilize space in the relatively small bedrooms and other areas, most of the furniture is designed specifically for the cabin and built on-site," note the architects. Kappland Arkitekter worked with a local carpenter to design and build the birch veneer furnishings that maximize the flexibility of the compact home.

In one of the bedrooms, custom bunk beds sleep three.

"The main functions in the cabin are organized along the main unit, with the walkway to the west," say the architects. "As such, contact with the views and the sea are enhanced while moving through the cabin."

The rest box faces west for views of the sea.

"The simplistic interior does not compete for attention with the magnificent views outside," say the architects.

Cabin Stokkøya floor plan

Cabin Stokkøya site plan

Cabin Stokkøya west elevation

Cabin Stokkøya south elevation

Cabin Stokkøya east elevation

Cabin Stokkøya north elevation

Related Reading:

Dwell’s Top 10 Cabins of 2019

The 101 Best Modern Cabins

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Kappland arkitekter AS / @kapplandarkitekter

Builder/General Contractor: Hosen AS

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