It all started when a Swedish Lapland couple, Kent Lindvall and Britta Jonsson-Lindvall, wanted to do something new that would provide them with a livelihood in their home village, Harads, Northern Sweden. The vision of building tree houses in the pine forest of Harads took shape when Kent discussed the initial idea with 3 of Sweden’s most well-known architects who happened to be with him during a fishing trip to Russia. The only terms laid out for the design of the treehouse were that it must be designed among the living trees and that it should be designed for the whole year in one arctic climate, and of course, it should be the highest standards. Fast forward to having designed the first six tree houses, the ‘7th room’ was designed by the Norwegian architecture firm, Snøhetta. Architects focused on creating a wooden tree house, where the location played a central role and wanted the guests to feel like a part of the forest, with a dynamic view of the surroundings and the mesmerizing northern lights. From the room, one can get a breathtaking view of the Lule river valley and miles of forest.
Overall design and materials
Snøhetta elevated the high-standard accommodation experience in the pine forest with a touch of luxury and flair. Ecological values and minimal environmental impact were the key values kept in mind while designing the tree house. This tree canopy hovers 10m above the ground providing the guests with astonishing views which primarily focus on the surrounding nature. The experience of the 7th room begins when approaching the tree house from the forest. From under the treehouse, the view up reveals a sixth façade, where a 12 x 8-meter surface is covered with a black and white photograph of treetops as they looked before the room was put in place. As it’s built as a traditional Nordic cabin, the exterior wooden façade has pine board cladding. The surface of this wood is burnt, which makes it dark and also offers a maintenance-free façade. The dark wooden exterior merges well with the dark pine trees, making the tree house part of the forest. The indoors, on the other hand, make up a blonde contrast to the dark exterior as the flooring is made from ash wood while birch plywood is used for the walls along with complementing light, wooden furniture. Scandinavian wood, textiles, and organic solutions are the main elements of the interior.
Snøhetta has made the relationship with nature an essential element of the design, which reflects from every space in the tree house, including the large skylights over the bed, which offer an ethereal view of the starry Swedish sky. Twelve columns carry this cabin of 55 sqm space which is designed for up to five guests, a place for living with two bedrooms, a social lounge area, bathroom; the captivating design features are the large panoramic windows and a double layered net that spans between the two bedrooms with a natural pine peeking through in the middle is suspended above the forest floor. This strong net allows one to climb out and sit there and enjoy the melodious sounds of the forest and the starry sky. Something that makes the 7th room particularly cosy is a temperature-controlled fireplace that lights itself below a certain temperature on chilly winter nights. For summers, the room has built-in air conditioning.
Spatial Planning and Construction
The whole space is laid out on two levels with only a 30 cm difference in height, with the lounge area located on the lower floor and the bedrooms on the upper level. While entering the tree house, one arrives at the social lounge area, which is furnished with a central pellet stove and characteristic furniture. A panoramic window floor to ceiling window offers a view of the Aurora Borealis on a clear day, giving the lounge the name ‘Northern Light Lounge’. Extending from the social lounge is the netted terrace which provides a great opportunity for coming closer to nature. The bedrooms are located on opposite sides of the cabin, facing the net and the central tree, with large glass sliding doors to enter out on the net. By providing generous large windows in all the rooms, Snøhetta wanted the rooms to be flooded with natural light.
The 7th room was one of the biggest and heaviest tree houses among the other cabins of the Treehotel. The total weight of the rooms grew from four tons to somewhere around 20 tons for the 7th room. Because of its weight and the sloping ground condition, the cabin required, among other things, a massive ice embankment made of blown snow in combination with subzero temperature, and the 55 sqm cabin was covered in sheet metal when being lifted into place. The tree trunks had to be reinforced with steel beams due to the massive weight and steel columns were drilled into the rock to further strengthen the structure.
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