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Living In A Moomin House

Words:

Edd Norval
December 14, 2021

The Moomins have entered folklore in Finland, despite being created by a Swedish-language writer (albeit Finnish). Now, in Norway, an architect has designed and built a house inspired by their fantastical and fairytale existence - something that is truly a view to behold in the unique Norwegian landscape.

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Architect Espen Surnevik chose to draw on the habitation of the dreamy moon-faced characters from the iconic cartoon due to the historical context of the piece of land the cabins were to be built on, a sport previously inhabited by Finnish migrants. 


The PAN Treetop Cabins are rentals, but could quite easily be winter homes. Their unique shape allows the wind to dance over and under them - with a pointed roof that make the whole pod-like living quarters look like they're levitating in the evening darkness.

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Floor to ceiling windows, perfectly tailored for the facade of the units, seeps out an orangey glow in the evening, like a gentle flickering fire in the forest, a sense of homely warmth in amongst a fairly barren and, otherwise harsh, landscape. The glass acts not only as a transparent layer to look from, but as a mirror of the forest around it, reflecting the trees so as to incorporate the wild lands into the designs - a forested camouflage.


Isolation is one of the strengths of these units. They come alive on the basis of the lack of life around them. The architect and professor in Oslo spent a great deal of time ruminating on the task. This was something he couldn’t rush. Architecture in the Scandinavian countries tends to work with, not against, its environment. Reserved in every way except the feelings the buildings are capable of eliciting.

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Opting for the power of the concept, over the loudness of the design, Surnevik drew parallels between the entry to his units and the trip that is undertaken by the Moomins around their own homes. Particularly, he was attracted to the relationship of the Moomins to the natural world around them. Their respect and even reverence for nature is reflected in the materials used in the PAN Treetop Cabins.


Reflecting on this, the architect stated, “For me, it represents a genuine feeling of how the Nordic individual relates to the long distances between settlements in rural Scandinavia, the loneliness, the dark winters, and the cold climate.” With incredible lake and forest views, these houses induce a euphoric sense of oneness, their holistic existence entirely at ease with the environment and its rich history.

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