These Nordic A-frame Cabins Offer Otherworldly Treetop Views

Inspired by Nordic folklore and fire towers that dot the surrounding forests, PAN Treetop Cabins by architect Espen Surnevik make for a surreal holiday
March 27, 2019Words by Michele Koh Morollo


Learn more about the PAN Treetop Cabins on Dwell
 


 

In the 16th century, immigrants from Finland settled in the forests of Finnskogen in Eastern Norway, creating a rich, pan-Nordic culture full of myth and folklore. Now, visitors can experience the region’s magic while staying in the PAN Treetop Cabins, two A-frame structures at 431-square-feet each, created by architect Espen Surnevik.

Nordic A-frame Interior
Photo: Matt Sparby
A pull-down dining table makes the most of the cabins' 431 square feet. A sleeping area can be glimpsed above.

Owned by Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel, the cabins perch 26 feet above the ground on steel poles sunk 20 feet deep into the bedrock below, providing stability when strong winds blow. Surenvik, who is also a professor at The Oslo School of Architecture, took inspiration from the region, and specifically from the comic strip by Finnish artist Tove Jansson featuring fairytale characters called the Moomins.

Nordic A-frame
Photo: Rasmus Norlander
The cabins have exterior cladding of black oxidized zinc and steel, helping to blend into the surrounding forest.

“Jansson’s texts and drawings define a whole mythology created around the Nordic view on nature and the Finnish forests,” says Surnevik. “For me, it represents a genuine feeling of how the Nordic individual relates to the long distances between settlements in rural Scandinavia, the loneliness, the dark winters, and the cold climate.”

Nordic A-frame
Photo: Rasmus Norlander
The cabins are equipped with electricity and water for a convenient and comfortable stay.

Nordic A-frame

Photo: Matt Sparby
A spiral staircase, inspired by fire lookout towers, leads up to the A-frame cabin.


His second source of inspiration, apparent in the design of a spiral staircase that leads up to the cabin, is the fire lookout tower, which Surnevik says is a part of the landscape in the forest belt that surrounds the northern hemisphere. “These fire towers are built to overlook the huge forests in search of smoke and fire in the dry seasons,” he says. 

Nordic A-frame
Photo: Rasmus Norlander
Architect Espen Surnevik chose the A-frame because it is “intimate in its width and monumental in its height.”

The treetop cabins also reference the American A-frame lodge. “I was in search of structural form for the cabins. Something that was not just freestanding and good-looking, but with a volumetry that had primal clarity and constructive significance,” says Surnevik, who choose the A-frame because “it is both intimate in its width and monumental in its height, and represented something basic with its triangular shape.” 

Nordic A-frame
Photo: Matt Sparby
A bridge leads from the top of the spiral stairs to the front door of the cabin.


Each cabin has interiors that are 28 feet long, 18 feet high, and 12 feet wide and can comfortably accommodate up to six people.

Nordic A-frame interior
Photo: Matt Sparby
The energy-efficient cabins face the sun and feature large, glazed facades that draw in light and warmth.


The program includes a mezzanine with a double bed, additional sleeping areas that are concealed within the interior walls, a small kitchenette and fireplace, and a bathroom with a toilet and shower. 

Nordic A-frame
Photo: Rasmus Norlander
The interiors are lined with pinewood, and textiles within the cabins are made of 100-percent local wool.

Nordic A-frame interior

Photo: Matt Sparby
A wood-burning stove squats by the ladder and electrical heating is incorporated into the wood floors.

“My vision was to create something that would easily settle into the landscape without making a big change in the surrounding nature. The forest itself has been the biggest source of inspiration, but also the North American A-lodges, modern power line constructions, and the houses of the Moomin characters,” says Surnevik.

Nordic A-frame sleeping loft
Photo: Matt Sparby
The sleeping loft feels snug and offers a peek over the treetops.

Nordic A-frame bathroom

Photo: Matt Sparby

The bathroom is lined in green mosaic tiles.

Nordic A-frame layout

Photo: Espen Surnevik


Nordic A-frame layout
Photo: Espen Surnevik

Nordic A-frame layout
Photo: Espen Surnevik

 



>>Next: This Egg-shaped Cabin Provides Shelter for Arctic Circle Travelers
 


 

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