If you’re planning to visit Iceland, bring a coat (or several!) – situated just south of the Arctic Circle, the Nordic country has a frigid climate. With winter temperatures in the negative double digits, and blistering glacial winds and dust storms, it’s called Iceland for a reason. The locals have spent centuries adapting to these challenging conditions, and their super smart green-roofed turf houses are some of the coolest looking hillside homes we’ve seen. Built with the simplest of natural materials, the turf house is a warm and cozy escape from the chilly countryside.

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When Iceland was first settled it was covered in plentiful birch forests, however the wood isn’t the best material for building. Birch homes couldn’t stand the weather, and boats made from the wood perished in the stormy waters, making transportation and importing of foreign materials nearly impossible. Left with only local materials to work with, settlers soon began building homes with rocks and turf.

The common home began with a stone foundation and a wooden frame covered in layers of turf which provided a great deal of insulation. The only external wood used was the home’s doorway where each homeowner could showcase their creativity. Throughout centuries of development, turf houses were slowly replaced with iron sided and reinforced concrete homes, though these historical green huts still sprinkle the Icelandic countryside.