Norwegian architect August Schmidt completed Dikehaugen 12, a modern energy-efficient timber cabin made from recyclable, environmentally sustainable materials. The small one-family home sits on the outskirts of Trondheim, Norway, bordering the “Bymarka” greenbelt, and is surrounded by a pine forest. Schmidt was involved in the project from design conception to final construction in order to demonstrate an alternative to the common design practice in which architects are divorced from the building process.
Dikehaugen 12 comprises three saddle-roofed buildings: the main living space, sauna, and annex. All three volumes are constructed from locally milled untreated wood and clad in pine shingles, also left unpainted, that will develop a patina over time. The house was built using as much recyclable and plant-based materials as possible so that only a minimal amount of non-recyclable waste will be generated at the end of its lifespan. Schmidt minimized site disturbance by designing with the existing landscape, and also strengthened the connection with the outdoors by creating outdoor spaces between the buildings that serve as thresholds from the built environment to nature.
The main dwelling features an open and flexible living area insulated with 35-cm-thick paper and the construction of a two-wall “climate shield” system: the building’s “cool” outer wall is separated from the “warm” inner wall by a 1.4-wide-meter open-air gap. The rooms are strategically placed to minimize the number of heaters, while the large open-plan dining, kitchen, and living room is heated by a single air-based heat pump. Per Norwegian building regulations, there is also a wood-burning fireplace with a chimney that serves as a second heating source.
“Mine and my bank’s concern was that there were no buyers in Trondheim interested in a house with an uncompromising architecture, on an inconvenient plot, which emphasized alternative living qualities such as ecological materials and small, smart space (versus an expanse of space and high-tech, embellished design),” writes Schmidt. “In reality, the interest for the house was immense. The market offers very little innovative housing today. Most builders invest in standard solutions at a minimum cost and minimum quality, aimed at a large and general group on non-discriminative buyers. It is the responsibility of both investors and architects to provide the buyers the opportunity to make better and more sustainable choices.”
Images via August Schmidt Arkitekter