Living amongst the ski slopes

Wednesday 30 Nov 2011

One part cabin, one part ski-slope to be constructed in picturesque mountains of Ål

Designing what is sure to become a keenly desired destination for any winter-sports enthusiasts, Oslo-based practice Fantastic Norway have created a perfectly suited, multi-purpose haven in the mountains of Ål, Norway. Erected in such a highly restricted yet idyllic setting, the necessary requirements imposed on this sophisticated seasonal residence were considerable; facing challenges from legislature as well as the obvious natural obstacles that such an (at times) inhospitable terrain can cause. During the harsh winter months, it’s expected this lone residence will be accessible by ski alone; though this is likely to deter few of the numerous adrenaline-seekers that congregate at such locations.

The fairly direct design brief outlined by the client for this unique abode was to conceptualise a way of incorporating an interactive ski ramp into the building's structure. The eventual solution to this request was to position the gabled roof at the accommodating angle of 23 degrees, whilst extending it along this trajectory, until it eventually meets ground. These elongated eaves will provide the necessary smooth and continuous track for skiers to traverse; combined with several aligned extrusions on the roof the overall basic design resembles an unusual amalgamation of right-angle triangles; purportedly made in the impression of an abstract mountain.

The limited height, whilst arguably advantageous, was in part due to restrictions imposed by local planning stipulations. Extending just 6m upwards, into the Norwegian air, the available internal space has resulting in a need for a confined, minimal approach to fitting; though is well-suited for minimising the strains of wind and snow. Integrated into the landscape, this streamlined structure allows these two elements to gently slip over it, rather than beating down upon it.

Packed into this limited space is an impressive total of four rooms; on the 2m-tall base level will be two bedrooms and a living room, with an additional third bedroom to be squeezed into the even more constricted upper floor. The walls themselves will be specially insulated, to maintain a warm place rest whilst the outside temperature plummets. The building materials will be brought to the site via snow scooter, out of respect for the natural beauty of the region; this will prevent larger vehicles from causing any debilitating effects, to the pristine surroundings. Construction for Mountain Hill is due to begin in the summer of 2012, with no confirmed completion date yet disclosed.

Tom Aston

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