by Amarjeet Singh TomarMar 13, 2023
International architecture firm Snøhetta has completed Tungestølen, a scenic constellation of wooden tourist cabins, settled atop mountainous western Norway. Located in Luster and perched on a small plateau that overlooks the picturesque Jostedalsbreen glacier (the largest in continental Europe), these cabins are designed for Luster Turlag, a local branch of the Norwegian National Trekking Association. These cabins replace the original Tungestølen Tourist Cabin that was a beloved destination for glacier hikers for more than a century before being ravaged by cyclone Dagmar on Christmas Day in 2011. Luster Turlag and the small local village came together to collect funds to rebuild the space through an international architectural competition that Snøhetta won in 2015.
Snøhetta proceeded to erect a new assemblage of nine strong pentagonal and sloping cabins, created with wooden glue-lam frames, clad in ore pine and covered by CLT sheets, preaching sustainable design. The outward facing cabin walls of Tungestølen have a beak-like shape that slow down harsh winds swept up from the valley floors. Angular and panoramic windows lining the timber cabins frame the beauty of the mountains and valleys they are surrounded and sited amid, bringing in warmth and light inside – a perfect space to sit back after a day of trekking, with a cup of steaming herbal tea, invoking rest and contemplation.
Built across 400 sqm, these pentagonal hiking cabins are open to public during the months of summer and autumn, offering its visitors a comfortable shelter amid the hilly, rugged site, which observes changing weather conditions. The warm and welcoming main cabin at Tungestølen measures 4.6 m at its highest, comprising a comfortable lounge with a stone-clad fireplace, and a communal dining area to host meals around wooden tables. With panoramic views overlooking the surrounding landscape, the generous cabin presents a social and spacious space and a minimal and cosy retreat from the chill outside.
The rest of the Tungestølen cabins include a dorm and smaller private units that allow 30 visitors (approximately) to spend nights at ease. “Once all nine cabins are completed in the next construction phase, Tungestølen will have enough capacity to accommodate up to 50 visitors,” informs Snøhetta. They continue, “One of the final cabins that will be built on the site is the original model for the Snøhetta-designed Fuglemyrhytta cabin in Oslo, which has become an enormously popular hiking destination ever since its opening in 2018.”
Steps have been built on the exterior for entry into the Tungestølen cabins, while the insides are furnished with exposed timber walls, along with fabric and items salvaged from the previously damaged structure. The resting areas consist of multiple bunk beds with pillows and bedding, with small, slit windows at their heads. The different levels can be accessed by olive-coloured wooden ladders, and the windows provide stunning views to the snowcapped mountainside.
Tungestølen offers a perfect space to host adept hikers as well as families and people with less or no trekking experience. “The cabin was officially inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Sonja last fall and will open again for visitors when the hiking season commences in June,” relays the official statement. The cabins are designed to stand secondary to the visually stunning Norwegian nature it is placed amid, and its choice of colours and materials in its architecture reflect that. Snøhetta has contributed immensely to Norwegian architecture and is admired globally for building forms that emulate and elevate their cinematic surroundings, such as Europe’s first subaquatic restaurant Under and The Arc, a visitor centre for Arctic preservation and seed storage in Norway.
Name: Tungestølen Hiking Cabin
Location: Luster, Norway
Area: 400 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Client: Luster Turlag, Norwegian National Trekking Association