Casper and Lexie Mork-Ulnes (Mork-Ulnes Architects) have recently completed Skigard Hytte, a mountain cabin for themselves and their children in Kvitfjell, a ski resort in Norway that was developed for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
Perched upon the ledge of a steep mountain and framing panoramic views of the valley and river below, the cabin connects to the ground lightly, protecting both the natural terrain and the occasional sheep taking refuge from the weather underneath the house. Its architecture references elements of the local vernacular tradition, reinterpreting them in a rational and inventive project.
Reinventing the vernacular.
The project is a site specific response to the context and the cultural landscape. It stands as an example of how architecture can convey past knowledge into the present, creating an affective link with the built landscape.
“We took great care in studying the rural
vernacular and analyzing local building typologies as we wanted to fully understand what their forms accomplished functionally and how they shaped the local architectural culture.”
The exterior cladding of the cabin is made of skigard, a 3 meter long quarter cut log that is traditionally laid out diagonally by Norwegian farmers as fencing. While referencing rural architecture, the rough facade makes the cabin fit in within the rugged landscape and forested vegetation. In the winter when the gaps in the skigard siding fill with snow, the house is given a new and softer expression.
The grass top of the cabin also recalls the traditional sod roofs, common on rural log houses in Scandinavia until the late 19th century. Listed by the local planning regulations as one of the few materials allowed for roofs (in addition to slate or wood), the fuzzy top, moving with the wind, helps soften the otherwise rigid rectilinear geometry of the cabin.
The cabin has a regular plan – an enfilade sequence of rooms in a row, following a central corridor – called Trønderlån in the Trøndelag region of Norway where Casper’s mother was born.
Text provided by the architect