Nasty weather is often referred to as sporting, rowdy, or Western, but perhaps “Icelandic” would also be appropriate. Bjork described the Icelandic landscape as “emotional,” and the emotion is often unsettle, disturbed, and chaotic. To give trekkers a bit of escape, the Swedish architectural firm Utopia has designed (though not built) an easily assembled a-frame hut called Skýli, which in Icelandic means “shelter.”

Here’s Utopia’s description of the project:

Skýli has two entries to be placed facing north and south respectively so that one will always be better protected from the wind. The doors are placed in the inward slanted outer shell so that they will automatically close and stay closed.


The space between the outer and inner skin create two additional rooms, one to wring out and dry clothes and one to house a compost toilet (such as a Clivus Multum or Separett).

Skýli has four activity areas: two for rest and sleep, one for cooking, mending and communication, and one for eating and storing emergency supplies. Benches to sleep on fold out from the walls. The lowest benches in each area sleep two people and can also be used as sofas. If necessary the cabin sleeps a total of 15 people, but the additional bunk beds also functions as extra storage space.

Tables, cupboards and benches are custom made, designed to fit in flat packs for easy transport and assembly. Hooks to hang supplies and gear are placed along the walls. On the floor at the center of the cabin a compass is printed for basic orientation.

In an emergency situation trekkers will be able to rest, find food supplies as well as first aid and basic medical equipment. The cabin has a solar panel and a battery for limited energy storage. The energy generated will cover basic needs for lighting, charging of phones etc during periods with enough sunlight. In bad weather when the solar panel and battery is not sufficient, light, electricity and satellite communication devices can be charged by a hand crank generator.

Rainwater collected from the roof is filtered into self-draining containers in the outer shell and supplies the cabin with water that can be used for washing, and once purified, cooking and drinking.

Heating is generated by the people inhabiting the cabin. Small manually regulated vents will be installed throughout the 4 areas. The cooking facility is powered by LPG and the gas can also be used for heating when needed.

By using IoT devices the status of supplies and facilities can be checked remotely ensuring that deliveries and servicing only has to happen when necessary and when weather conditions are favourable.

When help is needed a red alert lamp mounted on the roof can be switched on with the help of a hand crank generator regulated from within the cabin.

The cabin will be mounted on a system of plinths laid out on the ground, and adjusted to create a level and stable foundation. With the plinth system we minimise the imprint of the construction on nature, and make it possible to erect the cabin virtually anywhere.
The construction combines an inner and outer shell, creating a sheltered space in between. The inner shell, furniture and fittings are made solely from CLT, cross laminated timber, chosen for its durability, insulating properties, cost efficiency and sustainability. The outer shell, mounted on a lightweight stud frame, is made from steel – a material proven to withstand the harsh and changeable Icelandic climate.

This material was chosen due to its durability and low thermal expansion ensuring a limited movement even with great variations in temperature between the summer and winter seasons. The steel is painted using a paint made from Swedish rapeseed oil that is highly resistant to corrosion, UV radiation as well as scratches.

The windows, 4 in each gable, are triangular shaped to maximize strength and durability. They are triple-glazed for insulation and come in two sizes for cost efficiency. Outer and inner shells, the stud framed walls as well as windows will be pre-fabricated, packed for efficient delivery by helicopter and designed for quick and easy assembly on site. We estimate the time for assembly to take 2-3 days.

Photos by Utopia Arkitekter

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