architect espen surnevik has designed a pair of elevated cabins in eastern norway, close to the swedish border. located in finnskogen, a vast forested area, the design of the two dwellings is based on the same drawings but customized to fit the two specific locations. the cabins are accessed by spiral staircase towers, which take guests six meters off the ground. clad in black oxidized zinc and steel, the twin enclosures each measure 40 square meters (430 square feet).

espen surnevik PAN
all images by rasmus norlander, unless otherwise stated



available to rent through PAN-tretopphytter, each cabin has a small kitchen and fireplace as well as a complete bathroom with shower and toilet. a mezzanine level includes a double bed, while extra sleeping places are provided by beds integrated within the inner walls. this offers the potential of hosting up to six overnight guests. pale timber interiors are complemented by textiles made from local wool. both elevated structures are fully insulated and have electrical heating contained within the flooring.

espen surnevik PAN



in developing the project, oslo-based architect espen surnevik had three primary points of reference: the work of author and illustrator tove jansson, the creator of the moomins; the firetowers built to overlook the forests in search of smoke and fire during the dry seasons; and the A-frame lodges commonly found in north america. ‘this primal shape had the potential of being both intimate, in its width, and monumental in its height,’ explains surnevik.

espen surnevik PAN



‘jansson’s work is most famous for her creation of the moomins, but her texts and drawings define a whole mythology, I will say, created around the nordic view on nature and the finish forests,’ surnevik continues. ‘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.’ the project has already been very well received, with the client already considering the possibility of building two more cabins.

espen surnevik PAN

espen surnevik PAN

espen surnevik PAN

espen surnevik PAN

espen surnevik PAN

espen surnevik PAN

espen surnevik PAN
image by espen surnevik

espen surnevik PAN
image by maren hansen



project info:


client: PAN-tretopphytter (PAN treetop-cabins)
founders: kristian rostad & christine mowinckel
architect: espen surnevik – professor at the oslo school of architecture
collaborating structural engineer: finn-erik nilsen
contractor woodwork: bygg- og tømrermester terje nymoen AS
contractor steelwork: ARMEC AS

  • Even tho’ I hate A-frames, this is a beautiful application. ..and spectacular detailing. It’s a toss-up whether A-frames or spiral staircases – for which is the ‘most useless’. Who carries anything up a spiral staircase? I would have chosen an elevator or hoisted basket.


    Jimmy Xi says:

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