Aarestua Cabin brings old Norwegian traditions into the 21st century

Aarestua Cabin by Gartnerfuglen is a modern retreat with links to historical Norwegian traditions, and respect for its environment

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin hero exterior from air among snowy forest
(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

'Aarestua’ Cabin means quite literally 'log' cabin in Old Norwegian, and it is this simplicity and link to local heritage and tradition that this project, a holiday dwelling designed by Gartnerfuglen, was conceived to convey. The Oslo-based architecture practice was invited to create a retreat for its clients, a family of four, in Norway's Eastern Telemark region. 

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Discover Aarestua Cabin by Gartnerfuglen 

The typology's historical predecessor featured an open roof instead of a chimney. Here, Aaerstua Cabin is reimagined for the 21st century but aims to retain this link with its genre's past. At the same time, it sets out to forge a strong connection with the outdoors. 

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin interior

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

The Telemark region supports this unification with nature. The plot is set in a remote, forested location, while the entire area is 'known for its impressive nature and traditions of building and handcraft,' the architects explained.

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin view from long horizontal window

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

As a response, the architects designed a cabin that opens to the outdoors through large windows. It also brings this feeling of being among trees inside, as it's made of wood. The material also supports the home's role in providing a warm and comfortable shelter from the country's harsh winter conditions. 

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin view from timber clad corner study window

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

In terms of its arrangement, the cabin is organised around a central volume that houses the main living spaces – dining, kitchen and family areas. Around it, four adjacent ‘outhouses’ fan out. 

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin timber interior

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Two of these volumes are reserved for sleeping; one marks the main entrance and its storage and mud room; and the last is the 'tower', a 'vertically organised space for retreating, especially loved by the family’s two young children and their friends'.

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin view of nature from window

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

What in old times was a fireplace has been replaced by a modern wood-burning stove that has become the heart of the living space. Right above, instead of the 'chimney' opening, a large skylight helps illuminate the interior. 

Gartnerfuglen's Aarestua cabin timber bedroom

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Paying equal attention to the outdoors, the architects flagged how important spending time outside was for the owners – and how they brought that into their design: 'The spaces formed between the “outhouses“ become sheltered areas for sitting outdoors, eating, or enjoying the sun in the snow – a favourite Norwegian pastime.'


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).