Extreme Weather Cabins

Vertiginous thrills and geometrical ingenuity combine in state-of-the art cabins designed for those seeking the call of the wild.

  • Words: Avaunt

The Romantic poets saw Nature almost as a drug – the more extreme the experience, the more intense the torrent of words it inspired. Lord Byron declared in one of his more rhapsodic outbursts, ‘There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music in its roar.’ It is tempting, then, to wonder what he might have made of these exquisite, architecturally ingenious cabins, designed so people can experience nature at its most undiluted. Would he have been captivated enough by their stark and brilliant beauty to pen an appreciation? From Iceland to Antarctica, from Italy to Slovenia, here are five extreme weather cabins that have beguiled the team at Avaunt.

Skyli
Like an A-frame re-imagined by Picasso, this Icelandic steel trekking cabin – designed by Utopia Arkitekter – is an eye-boggling combination of four pyramidal shapes. The striking aesthetic incorporates strength, safety and stability, while the vivid blue is a complement to wild Icelandic skies. It sleeps fifteen mountaineers, who can look out at the volcanic landscape through its dramatic floor to ceiling windows.

Alpine shelter Skuta
This elegant storm shelter was designed by Harvard University students in an OFIS workshop to replace a 50-year-old bivouac in the Slovenian Alps. It is designed in three modules, which are installed at different levels to give it its distinctive ‘stepped’ roof line, and it is anchored to the rock with metal joints.

Gervasutti
This survival unit by Italian architects LEAPfactory – that cantilevers off the edge of a mountain – is the ultimate vertiginous thrill. Prefabricated, and lifted to the site by helicopters, with an integrated kitchen in the cantilever. A computer provides up-to-the minute information about the weather and climate.

Photography: Frederique Olivier

Icewall
This is the vision of the late Malcolm Wallhead, a fibreglass engineer, who designed an igloo-shaped hut that could be set up in remote locations far from urban existence. The first was bought in the Eighties for penguin research in Anarctica. Now the design has become so iconic that even Google has four in Zurich.

Winter cabin in Kanin
Slovenian architectural firm OFIS has also risen to the challenge of cantilevered accommodation in the mountains. This winter cabin – demonstrating the latest structural engineering techniques for extreme conditions – took three attempts to install. Just the smallest part of its footprint is attached to the mountain.

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