This Norwegian Cabin's Roof Doubles as an Observation Deck

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By Melissa Dalton / Published by Dwell
An observation roof and outdoor room extend the small footprint into the coastal landscape, while selective materials help it blend in.

"The project started with an idea of how to utilize this naturally sheltered area surrounded by large rocks and dense vegetation," writes Lung Hagem Arkitekter, the firm responsible for this tiny vacation home in Sandefjord, a coastal town 120 kilometers south of Oslo. The home is only accessible by boat or a path through dense forest, and clocks in at 30 square meters, or 322 square feet. Its design capitalizes on the natural privacy of the secluded site. 

The shape and material selection of the building let it blend in.

The shape and material selection of the building let it blend in.

The building functions as a sort of glassed atrium that houses an open living space, small bathroom, and mezzanine bed that sleeps two.

Views from the main living area focus on the surrounding vegetation. "Instead of placing the house on the spot with the best view, it is situated in a way that is tailored to the specific terrain, and gives prominence to the views from the outdoor room," writes Lung Hagem Arkitekter.

Views from the main living area focus on the surrounding vegetation. "Instead of placing the house on the spot with the best view, it is situated in a way that is tailored to the specific terrain, and gives prominence to the views from the outdoor room," writes Lung Hagem Arkitekter.

Oak steps lead to the loft bed.

Oak steps lead to the loft bed.

The long bench is made with the same white concrete as the roof.

The long bench is made with the same white concrete as the roof.

Its distinctive roof shape forms steps to an observation deck. The architects write, "The idea developed to create a way to climb up from this shelter to see the panoramic view over the sea, which led to the characteristic shape of the roof: a stepped ramp leading up from the terrain...connecting to the landscape beyond."

Lung Hagem Arkitekter says, "The roof is executed in 270-millimeter-thick reinforced concrete with 20-millimeter VIP insulation underneath. The concrete itself is water resistant, thus no additional roofing materials are required. As a result, the roof is a smooth, white surface creating a dialogue with the rocky landscape, and giving the cabin its distinctive character."

Lung Hagem Arkitekter says, "The roof is executed in 270-millimeter-thick reinforced concrete with 20-millimeter VIP insulation underneath. The concrete itself is water resistant, thus no additional roofing materials are required. As a result, the roof is a smooth, white surface creating a dialogue with the rocky landscape, and giving the cabin its distinctive character."

A west-facing concrete terrace with a fire pit encourages outdoor enjoyment day or night. "It is vital that these outdoor rooms are sheltered from the wind, so in this project the building itself forms a sheltering screen," write the architects. 

Interestingly, the firm chose to "restrict" views from inside the house, forcing the focus to the "intimate aspects" of the home's setting. The simple material palette, including oak, white concrete, and glass, further makes the tiny cabin feel of a piece with the surroundings.

The glass wall forces focus on the texture of the surrounding cliffs.

The glass wall forces focus on the texture of the surrounding cliffs.

The interior walls are solid oak layered with a natural sawn texture, while the acoustic ceiling is covered with woven oak strips.

The interior walls are solid oak layered with a natural sawn texture, while the acoustic ceiling is covered with woven oak strips.


Project Credits:

Architect: Lund Hagem Architect

Builder: STAKS AS Sandefjord

Structural Engineer: eStatikkrådgivende ingeniører AS

Concrete supplier: Uniocn AS

Timber supplier: TIMBER AS, Stokke

Fittings, membranes, VIP isolation: Vestfold Kobber og Blikk AS, in collaboration with Franco Bløchlinger

Glass: APS Larvik