Contemporary Mountain Cabin

WORDS Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES Bruce Damonte

Troll Hus, a modern cabin-like retreat in the Californian ski resort town of Sugar Bowl, was designed by Mork-Ulnes Architects.

Started in 2013 and completed in January 2016, this holiday home was built to accommodate a family of fifteen, commissioned by a retired couple to enjoy alongside their children and grandchildren.

Norwegian architect, Casper Mork-Ulnes, is behind the unusual name. “We call the house Troll Hus, with a reference to the otherworldly beings in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore that are said to dwell in remote mountains.”

As the owners were in search of an escape, the house was built in a secluded area of the surrounding forest. The architects, who were inspired by modern alpine architecture, decided to modernise their design by raising the “cabin” onto concrete plinths, not only protecting the structure from snow during winter, but also allowing for practical storage space. It’s no surprise that Casper decided to use a traditional Norwegian technique when building the home, by coating the structure’s solid timber frame in black tar, a practice that protects the wood from insects, as well as the elements.

The three-storey home is made up of five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a dining room, living room and an open-plan kitchen, which in summer can extend out onto a semi-external terrace. The interiors, which include custom-made furniture, were designed by Casper’s wife, Lexie Mork-Ulnes.“The owners were looking for a relaxed, welcoming environment,” she explains. “We suggested an interior atmosphere that is simultaneously cosy and airy. We went for a stripped down, almost purified aesthetic. Simplicity is luxury.”

The home manages to stand out and blend in at the same time. “The distinctive black hue of the house helps it recede among the tree trunks of this wooded site, and at dusk the interior, finished with minimally treated fir, glows warm through the windows,” says Casper. “The retreat is completely attuned to its natural environment.” We couldn’t agree more.