SPINN Arkitekter (NO) and FORMAT Engineers (UK) have collaborated on the design and  realisation of a stunning new mountain hiking cabin above the arctic circle.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Architect: SPINN Arkitekter
Client: Hammerfest og Omegn Turlag
Location: Hammerfest, Finnmark, Norway
Year: 2019
Area: 15 sqm
Structural Engineers: Format Engineers
Photography: Tor Even Mathisen, SPINN, DNT Hammerfest

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

From the architect: In the summer of 2015 the Hammerfest chapter of The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT)  decided to build two simple warming huts to promote hiking in the mountains around town.  The brief was simple - “we imagine a small hiking cabin with good windows that has a wood  burning stove and simple benches, placed near the top of the mountain and designed such  that it suits the terrain”.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

SPINN took up the challenge and produced a sketch design in the summer of 2015. “Varden”  was conceived as an organic wooden structure that fit in with the local terrain, could  withstand the harsh polar winter conditions of the area, provide hikers with a warm and  inviting rest stop, and be an attraction in itself. To translate sketches of an organic wooden  shell into reality, SPINN contacted their long time collaborators FORMAT Engineers to help  them transform a double-curved wooden «rock» into a structure that could be manufactured  precisely enough to be built on top of a mountain by a group of local volunteers.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

The sites were mapped in 3D using a drone and photogrammetry software to give a detailed  map of the surface which was used as a baseline for form-finding. The initial shapes made by  the architects in Sketchup and Rhino were further optimized and transformed by the  engineers using Kangaroo and Grasshopper, together with some customized scripting tools  developed by FORMAT. The result was a wooden cross-laminated timber shell with 77 unique  panels that fit together like a 3D puzzle.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

The design was tested against simulated wind conditions to make sure that it would withstand  winter arctic storms and extreme wind conditions. Snow simulations were performed to  ensure that the entrance will remain snow-free as intended. Structural forces between the  panels were determined to specify the correct type of screws and fasteners for the construction. 3D printing was used extensively to test out how the construction would fit  together, and to test cladding options for the exterior.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

The design proposed by SPINN and FORMAT was something very different than the client  expected, and had a higher budget, but they were determined to find a way to get the project  built. A visualisation and animation were made as part of a crowdfunding effort to raise the  money necessary to realize the project. Local businesses volunteered materials and services,  and Kebony donated materials for the exterior cladding. According to the plan, the hiking  association members would be responsible for raising the structure and transporting it to site.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

In the end it was decided to build the structure in a controlled warehouse environment, where  it would be put together and tested, then partially demounted for transport. One group of  enthusiastic volunteers got the main structure of prefabricated CLT panels mounted together  over a period of 4 workdays. Another group was responsible for cutting and measuring the  frames and panels for the outer cladding based upon 1:1 drawings from SPINN.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

The  volunteers used over 1500 hours on the construction of one cabin, plus the outer cladding for  both. The only professional work on the project was the two-layer bitumen waterproofing of  the shell, and pouring of the foundation on site. Split into two pieces, the first cabin was  loaded onto a flat bed lorry and driven to Storfjellet. It was then lifted into place and winched  together. The window, fireplace, ramp and interior furniture were all fitted into place on site.

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Thus far the first cabin has been a great success, and has increased the traffic to Storfjellet  significantly so far. The second cabin will be built on Tyven, a mountain on the other side of  Hammerfest such that the two cabins will stand watch over the city and look over to each  other across the beautiful arctic landscape of Hammerfest.

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Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

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Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

Hammerfest Hiking Cabins by SPINN Arkitekter

SPINN Arkitekter (NO) and FORMAT Engineers (UK) have collaborated on the design and  realisation of a stunning new mountain hiking cabin above the arctic circle...

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