Cabin Fever

12 Apr 2018
4 min read
Need a bit of peace and quiet? FOUR heads into the woods to discover this round up of beautifully crafted private residences…
Cabin in Lyngen Alps |Troms, Norway

Architect: Snorre Stinessen, Norway

Lyngen Cabin is located close to the sea but elevated from it, nestled into the natural formations of the Norwegian landscape. Equally, the surroundings of the site were also considered during the conceptual design and the layout of the cabin, such as the sun’s positions during the day (and night in summertime), the dominating wind directions, the heather and stone formations, the wide panorama across the sea and the dramatic views of the mountain peaks. The shape of the building accentuates the protective integration with the landscape towards the mountainside and the panoramic views over the sea—with the exception of the main bedroom, which was given a focused view towards the snowy mountains.

The lower length of the structure houses the entrance, bedrooms and a small living room, which also functions as a guest room. The sauna has a private exit to the outdoors, either to the spa-bath or directly into the fresh snow. The higher length of the structure features floor to ceiling glass on all three facades and houses the open kitchen, dining area and living room—all with unobstructed views over the sea and the landscape.

The exterior, including the roof, is clad with natural cedar wood, which turns silvery grey with age. The interior is clad in natural oak, maintaining its original patina and colour and providing a sheltered atmosphere. The cabin’s main heating comes from the fireplace in the living room area and hydronic heating in the floors. The cabin is energy self-sustained through geothermal energy, while the exterior design and materials minimise the need for regular maintenance, in spite of the harsh weather


Sunset Cabin |Ontario, Canada

Architect: Taylor Smyth Architects, Toronto

Nestled into a slope on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe, this one room sleeping cabin is a simple but sophisticated Canadian “bunkie”, evoking a primitive hut built of tree trunks and branches.

Functioning as a private retreat from the main cottage further up the hill, this cabin was built on a location that was previously used to watch the sunset. Three walls of the cabin are floor-to-ceiling glass, wrapped by an exterior horizontal cedar screen on two sides for privacy and sun shading. A large cut out in the screen is carefully located to provide spectacular views of the setting sun from the bed. To solve conflicting requirements for maximum views and openness but privacy from the main cottage, the density of the screen gradually diminishes as it moves away from the main cottage towards the lake. The screen obscures views in, while enabling views out.

A green roof, planted with sedums and herbs, allows the cabin to blend into the landscape. The minimal furnishing includes a bed with built-in drawers, a wall of storage cabinets and a wood-burning stove. All interior surfaces, including floor and ceiling, are fabricated of birch veneer plywood. The changes of both season and time of day continuously transform the cabin’s presence and dynamics with the landscape. With trees in full leaf, it recedes into the vegetation, integrating architecture with landscape.

In winter with ground and lake unified under a blanket of white, the horizontal lines of the slats are distinguished against the vertical rhythm of bare tree trunks. By day, the interior experience is a play between light and shadow as sunlight filters through the screen, projecting ever-changing patterns onto the floor. The random gaps provide abstract snapshots of vegetation, lake and sky. After dusk the effect is reversed—cloaked in darkness, the cabin evokes a lantern-like quality, radiating golden electric light from between the slats.


Nahahum Canyon Cabin |Washington, USA

Architect: Balance Associates Architects

Located north of Cashmere, Washington, in the Nahahum Canyon, this 1,500 square foot two-story dwelling is set into the hillside with concrete-retaining walls that guide the form of the cabin. Its east west longitudinal axis and generous overhangs are designed to take advantage of solar orientation while maintaining panoramic views. The main entry is a two-story room with full height glazing on the north and south walls that frame the most dramatic down-canyon view. An eastern oriented living space and kitchen occupy most of the main floor along with a powder room and utility area located within the hillside portion of the home. The upper floor contains the master suite and guest bedroom/bathroom with a loft style flex space that opens up to the living room below.


Andermatt Cabin |Andermatt, Switzerland

Architects: Oppenheim Architecture

In search for alpine essence, the architects constructed a dynamic clustering of four seemingly simple and familiar, barn-like structures, establishing a spatially intentional maiensäss (mountain village) of intimately proportioned moments, both inside and out. The distilled volumes and their dramatic penetrations invite the sun and frame optimal views of the surrounding valley’s most picturesque peaks. The enclosures they form establish a varied sequence from street to pasture, to rivers edge that serve to balance the power on site with visceral intimacy. The vast openness of the valley, once used for military training, and the relatively suburban neighbourhood context are juxtaposed by the embracing density of the family-scaled micro-village. Each space is distinguished by a unique eco system—a pine tree, a pond with wild flowers, an edible garden, a grove of trees and riverside marsh. The structures, reconstituted from their surroundings, are composed both inside and out of fallen stone from the mountains and wood reclaimed from old barns—gracefully blended into a harmonic composition, at one with its setting. Each volume has a distinctive function appropriate to its orientation and location. One is designated for the garage, mud room and atelier, another for the master suite, wellness area, game room and theatre, another for the living area and another for the communal kids sleeping loft, two guest bedrooms, dining room, kitchen and subterranean wine cave. Technologies both primitive and modern are utilised to minimise power and resources. A super insulated building envelope, rooftop solar array, geothermal heating and the use of all local materials diminishes the ecological impact of the home.