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A Colourful Backdrop: Accommodation in the Eternal Ice

In wintertime in the spectacular glacial region of the Okstindan Massif, everything disappears in the shadowless white of the landscape. Low temperatures, storms and drifting snow made it difficult for the architects to design a cabin for the Norwegian Trekking Association here. The cabin should be easy to find even in blizzards; its aerodynamic silhouette should offer little surface area to the wind and snow. Two chimneys jut visibly from the wood-clad Rabot Tourist Cabin, which is named after glaciologist Charles Rabot.

The region’s extreme climate conditions had a significant influence on the design. Snow loads of 9.5 kN/m² and strong winds presented the foundations for the measurements of the tightly meshed wooden skeleton. The silver-grey colour of the pine cladding was created with a protective coating of ferrous sulphate.

Because of frequent drifting snow, two entrances on opposing sides ensure access to the cabin. A central mezzanine with a kitchen and gallery divides the building into two zones which can be delimited with sliding doors and heated separately with one of the wood stoves. On both sides, higher communal spaces with large windows offer a good view over either the massif or the valley. On sunny days, the double-glazed areas maintain a cosy temperature and provide a lot of light. Originally, triple-glazing throughout the cabin was supposed to guarantee the best possible insulation. However, the difference in altitude between the place of manufacture and the cabin at 1,200 m made an equalization of pressure necessary in order to avoid the significant flexural stress and visual distortions that can arise, particularly with triple glazing. Therefore, the architects have used the highly insulative panes only for the bedrooms.

You will find a video about the detailed construction here.

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Bioclimatic Construction

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