Architectural schools are often the purview of high-flying conceptual work and fanciful designs that never make the leap from sketch to board and nail, but not the Bergen School of Architecture in Norway. There, the emphasis is on applied architecture, on getting hands calloused and learning what works and what doesn’t when put into practice. In the case of the Tubakuba (tuba cube) mountain hut, students built a 1:1 model on the grounds of the school, then constructed on site, on one of the rugged peaks that ring the city.
The entrance, of course, is the most notable element of the design, a curvilinear passage that brings one from the elements to shelter.
The project leader, architect Espen FolgerÃ¸, told Dezeen, “It gives children a place to play even if the hut is closed, adults have to crouch while children don’t, but most importantly it creates a spatial sequence where you enter a tiny hole and come out on the other side to a spectacular view.”
Although short, this journey must feel transformative. Aren’t cabins, after all, not just about escaping the elements but about our juxtaposition with them, too? And doesn’t this passage offer both metaphor and experience?
The cabin is constructed 95 percent of wood, much of which was scraps from local mills. The dark cladding is larch that’s been charred using a Japanese technique called shou sugi ban, which helps repel insect damage, fungi, and fire. The entrance is made of strips of Norwegian pine – students hauled two old hot water boilers to the site and turned them into a 20-foot bathtub, in which they soaked the pine until it was flexible enough to mount.
Photos by Espen FolgerÃ¸, Gunnar SÃ¸rÃ¥s, Helge Skodvin, Marina MagreÃ¸y, and Stine Elise Kristoffersen
Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.