Bjellandsbu- Åkrafjorden Cabin
Lost in the landscape
The Åkrafjorden fjord stretches from Norway`s southwestern coast inland towards Folgefonna, the countries third-largest glacier. From the waters edge, the terrain rises steeply, reaching some 3,300 feet above sea level, before shifting abruptly to a vast mountain plateau. Standing on this plateau, this extreme landform gives way to gently undulating hills and lakes; except for a rare view of the glacier, high peaks are nowhere in sight. The experience of walking through this seemingly infinite, untouched wilderness is mesmerizing, if also at times mystifying; chances are good that you will get lost in this landscape devoid of landmarks, amongst its rocks and heather.
Osvald M. Bjelland
One family has kept a small farm in the foothills of this landscape, down by the fjord, for generations. In summer, they walked their sheep the long way up to the mountain to graze on the plateau. Then, before the first snowfall, the farmers returned to herd the sheep back to the farm. But weather conditions in the region can be rough and snowstorms occur unexpectedly, making the raw landscape an even more challenging place to be.
Wanting a shelter that would simultaneously immerse them in this landscape and provide shelter, the family had long dreamed of building a private cabin on the plateau: a place for rest, warmth and sustenance. The 375 square foot(35 square meter) Bjellandsbu is the realization of that decades-long vision.
Bjellandsbu was design to be a discreet architectural intervention that is subordinate to the surrounding landscape.
Camouflaged by native stone and grasses, and shaped to reflect the natural terrain of the site, Bjellandsbu gives the appearance of having grown out of the landscape- like just another upturned rock on the mountain.
Viewed from a distance, the cabin impacts the landscape only minimally. In the warmer months, the curve of its sheltering roof cast a faint shadow on the ground. In the colder months, a steady billow of smoke rises from the chimney. Otherwise, the cabin and everythin around it is shrouded in a deep layer of snow.
The overall scale of Bjellandsbu is largely determined by the climate and remoteness of the site, but also the client`s programmatic request that the cabin have the capacity to sleep twenty-one people.
Bejllandsbu operates as a spacious and functional shelter. Two steel beams support a continuous layer of hand-cut pine logs to create the cabin`s soft form and single-volume interiors. The interior volume is organized by a traditional logic of people gathering around the warmth of a central hearth.
The space is a confluence of domestic elements acting at once as a bedroom, living room and kitchen, with the capacity to provide shelter for large family gatherings
Pine for the interior wood finishes was harvested and transported from the slow-growth confier forest of the valley below. These finished, as well as the overall construction of the cabin, where largely created through the efforts of a single Norwegian craftsman who lived on the site throughout the construction process, patiently shaping each wood component by hand ax.