A space that truly embodies what it means to dwell in nature

Stemming from the client’s wish to create a unique spatial experience that connects to both the ordinary and extraordinary sensation of climbing and exploring trees, Helen & Hard‘s aim was to create a space that truly embodies what it means to dwell in nature.

There were several challenging aspects of this small project. The most challenging part was the premise we set ourselves. Being able to create a complete cabin only supported by one quite narrow tree, without additional columns or using several trees. Secondly how to create a climatized room around a growing, living tree. Also, a rather unusual building application, governmental approval, and HVAC solutions were challenging. – Helen & Hard

The cabin in Odda, Norway is constructed around a steel pipe, cut in halves, and then attached together again around the tree with 4 penetrating bolts. This became a rigid backbone to build the rest of the cabin from. The architects used the bridge and two steel wires to fix the tree horizontally so that all the weight only goes vertically down the trunk and no excentric loads. Around the backbone, space is constructed by double plywood ribs in a radial shape which defines the enclosed space.

The depth of the load-bearing ribs becomes the insulating layer around the nest. On the outside, the cabin has a protective skin of shingles of heartwood pine, which weather over time to merge and blend with the natural patina of the surrounding forest. On the inside, the room is covered with panels from black alder which gives the space a refined, warm atmosphere.

The steep forested hillsides around the Hardangerfjord above Odda is the location of two Woodnest treehouses. The architecture is a specific response to the topography and conditions of the site itself. Inextricably crafted from nature, each treehouse is suspended 5-6 m above the forest floor and fastened with a steel collar to the individual trunk of a living pine tree.

Design and info © Helen & Hard

Images © Sindre Ellingsen

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