Norway has added its 500th hut, the Rabothytta, to its national network of refuges for trekkers

This most remote of Norway’s huts is flanked by the harsh rocks of the Okstindan mountains and lies in the shadow of Oksskolten, northern Norway’s highest peak.

The hut is a significant landmark in the Norwegian Trekkers Association’s long history of providing refuge to those enjoying the wonders of Norway’s backcountry. Its isolated situation presented a specific set of architectural, design and functional challenges, creating an adventure for the construction teams and for trekkers who will seek refuge under its Kebony roof. The design was conceived by Norwegian architects, Jarmund/Vigsnæs, who envisaged a compact structure that could be enveloped by the wind and the weather without any protruding segments. It was also important for the architects to grasp the exterior and embed it within the design of the building so that trekkers can still experience the natural wonder of the setting whilst sheltered from the weather.

The Kebony wood that engulfs the roofing will, in time, develop a patina to complement the grey rocks of the mountains. The façade facing the flat lake exhibits floor-to-ceiling glass, providing a feeling of contact with nature, even when indoors. The internal space is designed to create an intimate feel for all group sizes, being divided into modules that can be opened and closed to create small and large spaces.

At 1,200 metres and many kilometers from the nearest road, the site is without any infrastructure. For this reason the construction relied heavily on resources and manpower available nearby. Materials had to be light enough to be transported to the site by helicopter. For this reason, materials including Norway’s locally produced Kebony wood were selected in preference of heavier materials, such as steel. The construction team, many of whom were local volunteers, hiked and skied to the site, where they endured winter storms and had to take refuge in the hut overnight.

“We wanted the hut to be a precise object standing inconspicuously on the edge of the lake, blending into the mountains and allowing the wind to sweep uninterrupted over the seamless, compact exterior,” said Ane Sønderaal Tolfsen, from Jarmund/Vigsnæs. “The Kebony-clad roof will provide lasting shelter that will mirror the rocky surroundings. This project has been brought to fruition thanks to the involvement and support from the surrounding communities, and the provision of expertise and materials.”

With the completion of Rabothytta, the Hemnes chapter of the Norwegian Trekking Association will be able to offer more extensive accommodation along with a great trail network to hikers yearning to explore Nordland’s majestic Okstindan range. The cabin is self-service (unstaffed) and accommodates 30 overnight guests. For hikers, it fills a gap between the older cabins Kjendsvasshytta and Gråfjellhytta for both summer and winter visitors.

From the closest road it can be reached in about one-and-a-half hours in the summer, passing through beautiful mountain terrain. In the winter, cross-country skiers should allow about three hours for the trip up to the cabin.