Hideaway Cabin

Seemingly growing from the mountain, the impossibly small Åkrafjorden Hunting Lodge by Snøhetta shelters up to 21 people. The Norwegian firm Snøhetta creates architecture, landscapes, interiors and brand design. And in this case, incredibly small architecture with a big task.


Family shelter

The project was commissioned on family farmland by Osvald Bjelland, who is chairman and CEO of the global business advisory Xyntéo and founder of The Performance Theatre, a leadership think tank.

The challenge in designing the Åkrafjorden hunting lodge on a fjord, high in the mountains above the village of Etne in Hordaland, Norway, was indeed its small size in the face of its intended use: The mountain hut was to be maximum 35 square meters (ca. 377 square feet), with the capacity to shelter up to 21 people (the same number of beds as at the family's farmhouse down in the village). Plus, the off-grid structure with no running water needed to look like it had always been there.

Only accessible by foot or on horseback, the remote lodge’s setting is beautiful, isolated, beside a lake in the untouched Nordic wilderness of West Norway.

One important part of the design concept was to integrate the hut into the landscape. Thus, the small hut’s shape, orientation and materials are influenced by the terrain’s characteristic composition of grass, heather and glacial rocks. In winter, the cabin becomes another brown fleck — like the rocks — in mounds of snow.


Modern expression of ancient traditions

The structure consists of two curved steel beams, covered with a continuous layer of hand-cut logs of timber — a fusion of modern architectural expression and the style of traditional Norwegian mountain cabins. The roof, with its organic form, “grows” out of the landscape and is overgrown with grass. The materials of the facades are local stone, tar treated wood and glass.

To make room for a surprisingly large number of guests in such a tiny space, the architects found inspiration in ancient lodging traditions: The space in the center serves as gathering place, and the beds along the walls provide a spot to sit comfortably around the middle of the room in the evening — one piece of furniture for socializing, eating and sleeping. A narrow nook by the entrance accommodates cooking equipment and storage. △