Gone are traditional features like log walls, tiny windows and grass roofs. Here are some of DNT’s newest lodges. And a few we can look forward to.
Across the country The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) own, operate and uphold 545 lodges and cabins. The overnight guests are from all over the world, many of them with a common interest for mountain hikes, skiing and other outdoor activities.
Most of the buildings are constructed in a traditional way using Norwegian wood, typically painted red or dark brown. Characteristic details are white sash windows, maybe some grass on the roof and brick chimneys.
Recently this all changed. DNT are now inviting trekkers to spend the night in their new design spectacles, found in several Norwegian national parks, set between majestic mountains in a way that almost makes them blend in with the landscapes.
Instead of painted walls most of the new buildings are bare, leaving the colouring up to time and weather. The roofs aren’t covered in meadows, rather shaped to fit the horizon. Sash windows are gone, replaced by floor-to-ceiling glass, making you feel as if the nature is inside the living room.
Organization promoting and improving conditions for a variety of outdoor activities
Founded in 1868, DNT is celebrating its 150th birthday next year (2018)
More than 290.000 members
DNT has numerous local member’s associations spread across the country
These maintain 20.000 kilometres of marked foot trails and 7000 kilometres of branch-marked ski tracks, and organize hikes, trips and courses
They also operate and uphold close to 545 lodges and cabins
What set off this new way of building might have been the transformation of Turtagrø hotel in 2002, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) suggests. After a devastating fire the year before, burning the wooden structure from 1888 to the ground, it reopened as a highly modern hotel, signed by the Norwegian architects Jarmund/Vigsnæs.
"I remember people reacting. 'Oh my, can you build something like that in the mountains?' All of the sudden the traditional wooden house with a pitched roof is gone," says DNT’s head of nature management Anne Mari Aamelfot Hjelle to NRK.
3 types: Staffed lodges, self-service cabins or no-service cabins
The first kind offers breakfast and dinner, and many lodges have showers and electricity.
The second lets trekkers look after themselves, but the cabins are equipped with necessities like firewood, gas, kitchen utensils and bunks. Cabins are also stocked with provisions like tinned goods, coffee and powdered soup packets.
No-service cabins normally have the same equipment as the self-service ones, but without the provisions.
A new Preikestolen mountain lodge, located where the path to the world-famous Pulpit Rock starts, opened in 2008. Parts are made of recycled materials, and the architects have deliberately been avoiding plastic, mineral wool and polyurethane, according to DNT.
Walls and ceilings are more than 60 centimetres thick. The insulation measures 20 centimetres, and it’s made of recycled newspapers. The fireplace is designed for bioenergy, using clay and horse droppings.
The lodge is designed by the local architects Helen & Hard, and was granted the 2009 Norwegian Award for Building Design.
In August 2014 DNT’s 500th addition to the cabin and lodge collection opened its doors. Like the new Turtagrø hotel, Rabothytta in Hemnes is designed by Jarmund/Vigsnæs. The windows are from a local company, while the walls are made from Norway spruce, gathered from nearby forests.
On the lodge’s webpage, DNT writes:
"Rabothytta was dealt a location we could only dream of. That’s one of the reasons for deciding to do something extra. Give back to the society, appreciate the opportunity we were given."
With its many small rooms Gullhorgabu in Bergsdalen is especially designed to accommodate families with children. Paal Kahrs Architects were inspired by the fairy tale-like landscape, and the medieval tale about two kings at war, fighting over a golden altar, which the lodge is named after. In the end, one of the kings threw the altar in the lake. According to the architects "the colourful windows and doors can be reminiscent of a treasure chest, glowing like the treasure in the lake". Gullhorgabu opened in 2014.
The traditional lodge idea of many rooms under one big roof was cast aside in Lysefjorden, Ryfylke. Instead Skåpet, a collection of smaller cabins, offers trekkers a private hut with a panoramic view. A bit of luxury was also made to fit the landscape: a decorative shower and a sauna. Koko Architects has designed Skåpet, which welcomed its first guests in 2016.
Although Skålabu at the mountain Skåla (1843 metres AMSL) in Sogn og Fjordane has been open for guests since last year (2016), the official opening ceremony will take place on 2 July this year (2017). There's already a stone cabin at Skåla, Skålatårnet, which in 2011 was named Norway's most original DNT accommodation.
The new lodge is designed by Eilif Bjørge, and has been nicknamed Skålatårnet’s little sister.
The first Høgevarde lodge was built in stone in 1893. It still stands, 1400 metres AMSL at Norefjell, which makes it one of DNT’s oldest buildings.
In March (2017) a newcomer opened next to the 124-year-old. As Architect Stein Halvorsen is known for his eco-friendly thinking, the new Høgevarde lodge is made almost entirely from recyclable materials. It rests on a steel construction one metre above the ground, because, says DNT’s Johan Fegri, "using poles instead of a foundation wall lets snow and wind pass both over, under and along the sides of the lodge. Hopefully this will prevent the it from snowing in."
As an extra treat, bedrooms are shaped like boxes on the lodge’s exterior. Fegri "hopes and believes visitors will feel the forces of nature lying in their beds".
Luckily for those applauding the new construction trend DNT is only getting started. They have more opening ceremonies marked on their calendar.
After a ruining visit from a cyclone named Dagmar on Christmas Day in 2011, DNT’s lodge at Tungestølen in Luster was left in pieces. All that was left of the 100-year-old building was the foundation wall.
An architectural competition was announced, and the winner was Snøhetta, the Norwegian office which has also designed The Oslo Opera House. The new lodge will open in time for the 2018 summer season.
One of the buildings from Snøhetta’s Tungestølen project will be the model for a new cabin at Fuglemyra, near Vettakollen in Oslo, a hill popular for its view of Oslo and the adjacent fjord. This one is also scheduled to open in 2018.
Further North, in Hammerfest, Finnmark, the office SPINN Architects is working on a couple of smaller mountain huts for the local DNT branch. One hut will be placed on Storefjell, the other on Tyven. Both will look like big, oval rocks, designed to suit the terrain. Inside trekkers will find a warm and cozy place, somewhere they can huddle up beside a fireplace and enjoy the view without having to worry about the weather.
According to the architects, "the shape keeps the hut free of snow, it reduces wind pressure and it’s a material efficient way to build".