Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022

This Tiny Glass Cabin in Remote Iceland Takes Stargazing to the Next Level

This Tiny Glass Cabin in Remote Iceland Takes Stargazing to the Next Level

A prefab dwelling overlooking an active volcano features architectural details inspired by Viking culture and Nordic mythology.

Imagine lying in bed in a tiny glass cabin at the foot of Iceland’s most active volcano and watching the spectacle of the northern lights, or a five-hour-long sunset play out through the transparent roof and walls that surround you. This is the magical reality crafted by Estonian brothers Andreas and Jaak Tiik. The duo’s company ÖÖD Homes built a tiny cabin for Panorama Glass Lodge Iceland on a remote site at the foot of the Hekla volcano in the south of Iceland.

ÖÖD offers a range of "mirror houses"-tiny prefab cabins that are often used as guest houses, countryside getaways, and Airbnb accommodations. So far they’ve built projects in 12 different countries, including Estonia, Finland, and Norway. The ÖÖD Iceland home is a bespoke design, based on the clients’ wishes and strict local building requirements. These impacted everything from the dwelling’s structural properties and energy efficiency to the pitched roof.

"ÖÖD Iceland is a house of transparent glass that allows for next-level stargazing from the comfort of your home and bed," says CEO Andreas Tiik. "The apocalyptic scenery is a dramatic match-add strong howling winds and the comfort of a warm, homely cabin and you get the perfect out-of-this-world hideaway."

Two cabins sit in the vast, empty landscape overlooking the Hekla volcano, around three hours’ drive from Reykjavík. The front part of each cabin-for sleeping-is almost entirely glass, while the rear-where the living, kitchen and bathroom spaces are located-is clad in timber for privacy.

ÖÖD created two identical cabins for Andreas and Sabrina Dedler, who rent them out to guests through their company Panorama Glass Lodge Iceland. The 200-square-foot cabin has all the necessities for living-a bedroom, small living space, kitchenette, and bathroom-arranged in a tiny floor plan.

The gable decoration is a Viking element traditionally used to protect homes from danger. The "moon" shape comes from the shape of Viking horns.

Like other ÖÖD homes, the cabins were constructed in a factory, then delivered and installed on-site in just one day. "ÖÖD Iceland has been created with the surrounding landscapes in mind," says Tiik. "Transparent glass is a perfect match with the Icelandic nature, letting in as much of its beauty as possible."

The harsh local climate-including strong winds and acid rain caused by the volcanic landscape-was a particular challenge. The cabin features a copper roof, which is one of the few materials that can cope with acid rain.

ÖÖD Iceland has a number of sustainable features, including substantial insulation, triple-glazed windows, thermally modified timber, programmable thermostats, and LED lighting.

The bedroom is set at the front of the cabin, which is entirely encased in glass so that guests can sleep under the stars. A more private living/dining space and kitchenette are located to the rear. Black hexagonal tiles on the floor and kitchenette backsplash help to define different zones in the open space.

"ÖÖD always hopes to make people feel at home," says CEO Andreas Tiik. "This approach-found in the use of materials, the bespoke solutions, and the warmth of the kitchen-makes a house that is meant to be a hotel to feel like a home."

The custom pendant above the dining table was made by a small Lithuanian design studio based on a brief from the client. The black hexagonal tiles help define the different zones in the tiny interior space.

The cabin’s design is inspired by Viking culture and Nordic mythology-from the rustic, handcrafted bed to the symbolic Viking moon element on the roof, and the custom cord and wire pendant above the dining table. Nordic mythological symbols and runes also adorn the exterior of the home.

The two cabins are named Freya and Alva, and feature the runes for "F" and "A" on the exterior timber wall. Signs from Nordic mythology are also found on the back of the houses. "The viking elements and the runes help the cabins fit into Icelandic history," says CEO Andreas Tiik.

"One of the challenges was to accommodate everything necessary in such a small area-we had to maximize every inch of space available," says Tiik. "Large drawers below the bed, for example, provide ample space to stash everything from clothing to additional blankets for chilly nights." The cupboards are also designed to accommodate travelers suitcases.

The bed is custom-made by a local designer according to a brief by the client. It offers ample storage below to make the most of the small space.

The bed features luxurious supima linen and woolen blankets, as well as hand-knit pillows from a local artist.

The "rustic Nordic" kitchen features dark oak cabinets that complement the black hexagonal tiles that climb from the floor to the backsplash. The cabinets have been deliberately left open to create a welcoming atmosphere. "Imagine how cold and closed off the space would look if everything were hidden in cabinets," says Tiik. "Instead, everything is out in the open, creating a space that feels more like a home and less like a storage unit."

The kitchen features oak woodwork, black fixtures and fittings, and black hexagonal tiles that mimic the lines of the local landscape and represent the "basalt columns and moodiness of Iceland".

A door from the kitchen leads into the bathroom, which features copper and stone details and a dramatic wall crafted from geometric 3D tiles. "When the light is turned on, the shadow effect is very eye-catching," says Tiik. "These particular tiles were chosen thanks to the Viking arrow-like pattern, and the industrial-style lights give it a little bit of an underground feeling."

The bathroom has a richly textured material palette, including a copper towel rack, natural stone basin, and white ceramic tiles. The painting reflected in the mirror depicts draumstafir, magical Nordic staves.

One of the major challenges with the large expanses of glass was controlling light in the summer months, when it doesn’t get dark at all-a phenomenon known as the midnight sun. "These long sunsets can be both beautiful and disturbing," says Tiik. "Therefore, we installed pleated curtains around the bed, which provide privacy as well as shelter from the constant daylight."

The cabins overlook the Hekla volcano, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. It is part of a 25-mile-long volcanic ridge, and during the Middle Ages it was referred to by Europeans as the "Gateway to Hell."

"People visiting ÖÖD Iceland are immensely impressed by the natural forces that you can enjoy in the comfort of the home," says Tiik. "ÖÖD Iceland is less an accommodation and more an experience-the only time that you have to leave the beautiful view is if you fall asleep."

The glass front half of the cabin blurs boundaries between interior and exterior and completely immerses guests in the dramatic surroundings.

Both ÖÖD Iceland houses have a hot tub at the front overlooking the spectacular scenery. "This makes the experience even more surreal," says CEO Andreas Tiik.

A floor plan of ÖÖD’s Iceland mirror house shows how the living, sleeping, dining, and bathroom spaces are arranged.

A floor plan and elevations of ÖÖD’s Iceland mirror house.


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