It’s a good time to be a nature enthusiast.
“But they’re in Norway!” you may be lamenting. OK, true. We feel your pain. But as permanent, communal cabins seem to be becoming more of a thing in the hiking scene these days, it’s worth keeping an eye on the developments. Who know: maybe we'll get some North American copycats sometime soon.
Meantime, let's take a look at what we're working with.
Norway's Stavanger Trekking Association runs 35 self-catering cabins in the area. The newest batch was part of a competition to erect a new colony of small residences around the Soddatjørn mountain lake, a rugged, hard-to-reach locale that demanded an easy-to-maintain, ready-made shelter solution.
Koko Architects responded with this little village, which has a main cabin, ancillary sleeping cabins, and a toilet and sauna. All in, it's able to accommodate up to 35 people. There is no electricity, but there are two gas stoves for cooking, a wood-fired stove for heating and solar panels for light.
As you’d imagine, the weather conditions can be quite severe. To offset deterioration, the cabins have a rolled zinc exterior which can withstand elements without maintenance for decades.
And the campsite rule still applies: departing visitors keep the cabins stocked and cleaned with food and firewood for the next batch of hikers. Communal space of the main cabin encourages different parties to interact, and the honor system for leaving fees in a dropbox keeps visitors honest. The entire project reads something like How to Be a Good Hiker and Also Person 101.
Or, as the Scandinavians call it, normalcy.
Main image: Marius Dalseg / The Norwegian Trekking Association