Norway: Fjordside Retreat
Name: Malagen Cabin
Architect: Snorre Stinessen
On a natural ridge rising above a fjord and overlooking a clearing in a forest, architect Snorre Stinessen has found a balance between isolation and togetherness, playtime and downtime, shelter and exposure. This perfectly pitched cedar-clad retreat is located on the Malangen Peninsula in Northern Norway, an hour south of the city of Tromsø, where Stinessen founded his practice in 2005.
The cabin’s architecture prioritises time with family and friends, yet doesn’t romanticise it: ‘It’s nice to gather together, but it can get a bit tiresome as well,’ admits Stinessen. ‘So if you can have some separation to be able to find privacy, that gives another aspect to being together for a long time.’ Thus the retreat is formed of a series of four elevated timber cabins connected by interior concrete walkways, which lead to an open-plan living annex. Each of the cabins has a separate function – there’s the parents’ master bedroom, the children’s bedroom, a playroom and a sauna. This zoning system is about creating an awareness of the activities that make up a day off.
‘We needed to allow space for the children’s playtime, without intruding into other people’s peaceful tinme – and the other way around,’ explains Stinessen. A higher section of the retreat includes a children’s room with a ‘lookout’ loft and a climbing wall. ‘The weather can be fairly harsh here. When I was young, in the traditional cabins, the only thing we did on such days was wait for the next day and perhaps better weather. Being able to let the children play inside makes playtime a part of the retreat.’
Pictured, cedar-clad cabins house different functions. Photography: Terje Arntsen. Writer: Harriet Thorpe
As originally featured in the December 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*225)