Architecture meets nature north of the arctic circle

  • 10 Mar 2016

ABC+D discovers more about Fordypningsrommet, the world’s most northern artists’ retreat which combines innovative design with stunning views…

Old Pier Sauna by Pasi Alto - Fac. Arch. NTNU Norway-9

“We really wanted to make the build an environmentally friendly construction, disrupting the environment as little as possible while maintaining a natural aesthetic.” – Håvard Lund

The Norwegian composer and musician, Håvard Lund has embarked upon an innovative project to create an artists’ retreat on Northern Norway’s beautiful and dramatic coastline. The retreat is named Fordypningsrommet, the Norwegian word for “room for deeper studies,” as Lund aims at inspiring artists to return to nature and deepen their creative pursuits.  

The project consists of six small mono-functional houses with a uniquely playful design. The houses include a sauna, sleeping house, kitchen house, studio, the so called “tower for big thoughts”, and a bath-house.

These dwellings are built on top of angled steel feet and anchored with bolts and concrete to create visually striking angles. Situated in the Arctic Circle, in Fleinvær Archipelago, the buildings have been carefully designed to give stunning views of the distinctive mountains and peaks of the adjacent islands of Lofoten. In summer 2016 the Fordypningsrommet will open to the public.  

The serene environment serves as a blank canvas for the creative minds of those who will stay there, providing a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of busy urban life. The remote location of Fleinvær means that there are no cars or shops.

By stripping away many of the distractions of modern life it is hoped that artists can focus their minds and fully immerse themselves in their projects. The surrounding nature offers unusual high skies and long sights and horizons, which will help artists to work in a focused and effective way. Besides studies, the venue will offer concerts, talks and previews of acts for audiences.

studio&kitchenhouse3 by Andrew DevineFordypningsrommet Fleinvær, is a fascinating architectural construction. The angular arrangement of the structures was chosen specifically to deflect the harsh coastal winds of the region and complement the surrounding natural context of rocky outcrops.   

Award-winning architect, TYIN tegnestue, together with Professor. Sami Rintala, designed this project and chose Kebony wood for much of the construction. This was a choice borne out of the material’s versatility and practical applications as well as its beauty.

The wood’s appearance and the dappled silver-grey patina that the wood attains over time ensure the structures blend into their stunning surroundings. The ease with which Kebony can be worked with was a key consideration, as the buildings are finished with an intricate lattice of wood tiles, evocative of fish scales, further interweaving the natural and the man-made.

Developed in Norway, the Kebony technology is an environmentally friendly process which enhances the properties of sustainable softwood with a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste. By pickling the wood with this liquid under pressure, the wood is permanently modified, resulting in greatly improved durability, giving it the characteristics of premium hardwood.

The robust nature of Kebony is incredibly important, especially in the Fordypningsrommet project, as the buildings are set out on the coastline, exposed to harsh weather and extreme cold climate.  

Håvard Lund, the creator of the Fordypningrommet project commented: “We really wanted to make the build an environmentally friendly construction, disrupting the environment as little as possible while maintaining a natural aesthetic. Kebony provides us with a great option of a beautiful building material which minimises the environmental impact of construction.” Mette Valen, team leader Norway at Kebony said of the project: “It’s fantastic to be involved in a build like this, one that really focuses on interesting design choices to create a calming and beautiful atmosphere. Håvard Lund has a wonderful vision and we at Kebony are proud to help him realise it.”

studio&kitchenhouse11One of the key difficulties encountered when building by the sea, is that water weakens construction materials. Salt water is renowned for creating considerably more damage than fresh water. Kebony’s resilience to weathering and water damage, despite the duress placed on it by the elements, was a fantastic bonus.  

The design of the retreat was intended to be striking, yet also suggest a sense of humility in this isolated spot, an aesthetic choice which the muted natural patina of Kebony wood fit perfectly.

To further protect the buildings and ensure that no negative impact was caused to the surrounding nature, the traditional Norwegian building method of placing the structure upon steel feet was used for the two main houses. This raises the build, allowing for the natural beauty of the coastline to be maintained, while also creating the illusion that the homes are floating above the sea-line.   

In this remote location, the durability and weight of the materials required for construction is an important factor to be considered, since all materials used need to be carried to the site by hand. Kebony is a highly durable, sustainable wood with the performance characteristics of the best tropical hardwoods.

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