The Arctic Circle has some of the harshest climate you can imagine: long, cold, dark winters and short summers. Yet this is the very place that the Hjertefølgers, a family of six, has been living for the past three years, in a hand-built cob house that is protected by an enormous, glass-paned geodesic dome, which allows them to not only grow food, but to also live comfortably year-round despite the challenges.
Situated on Sandhornøya island in northern Norway, the Nature House is the Hjertefølger (translated as "heart followers") family's labour of love, taking two years to design and build. The solar-powered, three-storey, five-bedroom home features an irrigated outdoor garden under the 25-foot-high dome that allows the family to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables for five months longer than usual -- as there is not much sun here for three months out of the year. There is also a rooftop terrace that the family can use. The family composts, and greywater is reused to water their plants. Watch this well-crafted short film and tour of the place via Deadline Media:
Mother Ingrid, who is an avid yoga practitioner, vegan and permaculturalist, told Inhabitat what it's been like living in this pristine place for the last few years:
The house works as we intended and planned. We love the house; it has a soul of its own and it feels very personal. What surprises us is the fact that we built ourselves anew as we built the house. The process changed us, shaped us.
Made out of a mixture of earth, straw and sand, cob is a natural building material that is fireproof, earthquake-resistant and cheap. The 49-foot-wide dome, built by Solardome, has 360 panels of 6-millimetre thick single-paned glass that is designed to withstand the high winds and heavy snow loads that are typical of this region. The recycled aluminum frame has a structural lifespan of 100 years and is low-maintenance; its domed shape translates to a 30 percent material savings compared to a conventional orthogonal building. There are 11 operable windows in the dome to allow for ventilation.
This is a beautiful project, one of the handful we've seen in the last few years with the same concept of placing a home under a greenhouse to mitigate the temperature fluctuations and heating costs associated with cold, northern climates. Yet it's not just about building something unconventional and discovering oneself in the process of realizing a dream, but also a matter of breaking free of conforming to someone else's expectations, says Ingrid:
The feeling we get as we walk into this house is something different from walking in to any other house. The atmosphere is unique. The house has a calmness; I can almost hear the stillness. It is hard to explain. But it would have been impossible getting this feeling from a house someone else has planned and built for us, or a house with corners and straight lines.