Architects Casper and Lexie Mork-Ulnes built their home in the Norwegian ski resort of Kvitfjell, which rose to fame with the 1994 Lillehammer winter Olympics. A place where the two architects, founders of the studio that bears their names, with offices in Oslo and San Francisco, their teenaged children and their inseparable dog Lupo can embrace the concept of outdoor living in harmony with nature that is an essential feature of the Norwegian lifestyle.
The cabin is built on a natural spur in the land at an altitude of 943 metres, almost at the top of the 1,039 metre mountain. The high altitude exposes the home to rigid weather conditions in winter, but offers breath-taking panoramic views over the valley and the river below. The architects give shape to their dreams with a main home and an annex for guests, in which all the rooms have broad views of the outdoors maintaining direct contact with nature and the animals outside. The project has won numerous international awards and been featured in a short film directed by Filmatica / Juan Benavides portraying the cabin in the snow and silence of the Norwegian mountains as it ideally prepares for the family’s arrival.
Architect Casper Mork-Ulnes describes his project as a site-specific response to the context and the cultural landscape, founded on the study of local rural vernacular architecture and construction traditions, reinterpreting their forms in a functional way.
The name of the home, "Skigard", refers to a wooden element, a 3 metre long quarter-cut log which Norwegian farmers traditionally used for fencing. The architects use this to cover the outside of their home, creating a texture formed of diagonal elements that helps minimise the building’s impact on the landscape. For the same reason, they give the cabin a grass top recalling the traditional sod roofs common on Scandinavian homes up to the late 19th century. Also to minimise the impact on the landscape, the architects replace the traditional foundations that would have damaged the soil with a construction built on stilts, so that nature can continue to grow underneath the building and animals can take shelter from sudden summer storms.
The cabin’s interior is very simple. The regular rectangular floor plan consists of a series of rooms divided by a central corridor, traditionally known in Norway as a “Trønderlån”. The furniture is all custom-designed by the architects, and all the surfaces inside the home are covered with pine wood to give the cabin an intimate, cosy feel without any distracting colours that could draw attention away from the contemplation of nature through the full-height windows in the living room.
Project name: Skigard Hytte
Project location: Kvitfjell Resort, Fåvang, Norway
Architect: Mork-Ulnes Architects www.morkulnes.com
Project design team: Lexie Mork-Ulnes, Casper Mork-Ulnes, Phi Van Phan, Auste Cijunelyte, Kristina Line, Monica Lepinska
Clients: Lexie and Casper Mork-Ulnes
Structural engineer: Bygg Konsulentene Øst. www.bk-o.no
Cabinetry and furniture: Strønes Snekkerverksted www.strones.no
General contractor: Hafjell Bygg www.hafjellbygg.no
Project size / Conditioned space: 145 square meters
Parcel size: 2.148 square meters (23,120 square feet)
(01 - 18) Bruce Damonte www.brucedamonte.com
(19-21) Juan Benavides www.juanbenavides.mx