During those times of necessity, national identities were formed, like the Finnish notion of sisu or stoic determination. But since then, the cabin has become a leisure activity, and one that’s booming. According to Nature Compact Living, which operates holiday homes throughout Norway, around half of Norway’s five-million-strong population owns or has access to a leisure home, whether a cabin in the mountains, the woodland or by the sea. And now, 6,500 cabins are being built there each year, which is a more than 75% yearly increase since the early 1980s.
Frydenlund puts this down to the increased interest in “spending time in nature, being close to nature – there’s a longing for that”. And these houses offer “a compact living concept, they’re comfortable and have a beautiful openness towards the nature, so you can almost bring the nature in”. Modern building methods allow for vast glazed areas for those inspiring views, nifty storage and multifunctional furniture that make a relatively bijou space work hard – characteristics that are typically associated with design from this part of the world.
Prefab is the favoured route, “because it’s very easy to mount and to lift and place them in the terrain, without digging down too much”, says Frydenlund. “They’re easier to construct, and when you’re building in remote areas, it’s easier have a short construction time. And you’re in control of all the detailing.”
Snøhetta has designed a series of modular cabins based on a shipping container for NCL along these lines, and is now investigating smaller modules that can be lifted in with helicopters to the remotest of areas. That’s useful where there are no roads, and the only access is by foot, boat or ski, she adds.