The Mountain Lodge located in Bruksvallarna, Sweden, isn’t much to look at, and that’s exactly the point. Architect Peter Sahlin has been visiting this region of Sweden 350 miles northwest of Stockholm since he was a child, and when he decided to build a getaway here he wanted it to fit in with the rural, agricultural landscape. More specifically, he designed his cabin to look just like one of the many barns that dot the rolling hills.
“The simple design is reminiscent of the vernacular architecture in this part of Sweden. I wanted the lodge to fit seamlessly into that tradition,” he said.
The structure itself is new — mostly prefabricated and trucked to the site — but still grounded in time-tested local practices. The exterior paint, for example, is a copper-based tint that has been used to cover Swedish barns for more than 400 years.
“The red finish is the most famous,” said Sahlin, “but the black is the most beautiful. Though it has a brownish cast in full sun, in most lights it appears black. By day, the cabin looks like one of the local barns. It only seems like a dwelling at night when the lights are switched on.”
Scandinavian restrain is evident inside as well as out. The cool, neutral furnishings are by design. Though some might want more warmth and hominess, Sahlin pieced together the furnishings to as not to “overwhelm” the views of nature streaming through the windows, which in winter are uniformly monochrome.
When it comes to second homes, architects seem rarely to embrace such subtlety, even in Sweden. But in Bruksvallarna, it works. Sahlin built this first cabin in 2005 as a test of ideas. Since then, a half-dozen more vacation homes have been designed by him for clients and built, each of them blending in with the local landscape, looking for all the world like a simple place to stash your hay.
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Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.