If you are ever lost while trekking in harsh weather in Iceland, then you should pray and hope to find refuge in a glamping oasis like the Skyli Trekking Cabin. Skyli means “shelter” in Icelandic and it can provide shelter to 15 mountaineers at a time. The angular structure features four gabled roofs and resembles a tent but is actually clad in a steel facade to protect you from the weather. The bright blue color makes it easily visible in the rugged landscape while also paying homage to the architecture of the country’s capital. All components being pre-fabricated so that they could be transported flat, winched underneath a helicopter, and constructed in situ – a process Utopia Arkitekter estimates would take between two and three days.
Swedish firm Utopia Arkitekter employed a team of innovative architects that worked with sustainable materials in their buildings. “Skýli is designed for pristine environments where sustainable development is of the highest importance. Materials need to be eco-conscious, while also resistant to extreme weather,” explained Mattias Litström, founder and creative director of Utopia Arkitekter.
The interior is lined with cross-laminated timber and features enough fold-out beds for up to 15 people, water, power, and even emergency supplies. Find a spot beneath each peak, large triangular windows to be immersed in the landscape. Its prefabricated design allows for materials to be easily transported by helicopter and the assembly can be completed in a couple of days.
These pitched roofs give the building a tent-like shape. The shape also resembles traditional Icelandic huts, whilst the bright blue is a nod to the colorful architecture of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. The Skýli trekking cabin features sharp pyramidal shapes, a strong, durable, and stable structure with several practical details. The triangular gables resemble a classic tent, the most basic shelter used by trekkers worldwide.
GreenCoat color-coated steel will be used in the roof because it is currently the most sustainable color-coated steel product on the market, using Swedish rapeseed oil in the coating instead of fossil-based oils. Since Skýli will be built in the mountains or in harsh, cold-weather environments, choosing materials for extreme weather is another important factor and GreenCoat can withstand it.
They deliver extreme durability, resistance to corrosion, and long color retention. Furthermore, they provide building specifiers with a significantly lighter material compared to alternative solutions and have a low-temperature elongation to guarantee a clean look without buckling or deformation.
In the gap between the steel exterior and the wooden internal walls, the designers have included a space for visitors to wring out wet or muddy clothes, as well as room for a composting toilet. Rainwater running down the sloping roof could be collected in self-draining tanks in the outer shell, providing the cabin with water that could be used for washing, or purified for cooking and drinking.
Solar panels and a battery offer enough power to charge devices and light the interior in good weather. A hand-crank generator would provide a backup on darker days, but would also double as an emergency beacon if occupants needed to call for help. In the case of an emergency, the cabin would be kitted out with basic medical supplies and a stash of food rations, stored under the benches in the dining area.
Both the inner shell and the furniture – designed to fold flat for ease of transportation – would be made from cross-laminated timber (CLT), a high-strength engineered wood. Combined with the lightweight steel shell, it would make the cabin easy to maneuver into position. The CLT and steel would also provide insulation, along with the triple-glazed windows.
A series of plinths would lift the structure off the ground, providing it with a flat and stable base, whilst minimizing its impact on the natural terrain. The brilliant blue Skýli color of the roof, which will be made from GreenCoat color coated steel, from SSAB, represents the Nordic light and ensures that Skýli is visible in the Nordic landscape. It will make the cabin easy to find, while at the same time creating a strong symbol for shelter and safety.
Designer: Utopia Arkitekter