News Treehugger Voices Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Take Resort Design to a New Hytte It's an ecotourist "landscape hotel" in France. By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated January 21, 2021 04:11PM EST Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Florent Michel @11h45 News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Hytte is the Norwegian word for cabin. They are usually described as being cozy and small and in the middle of nowhere, although a Pinterest search of hytte shows them to be as variable as a Canadian cottage or an Adirondack cabin. In the Alsatian village of Breitenbach, the landscape hotel, 48°Nord, "reinterprets the traditional Scandinavian hytte, a place of retreat and reconnection with wild nature." Florent Michel @11h45 Designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter & ASP Architecture, it's composed of a main building with reception, restaurant and wellness facilities, and 14 hytter in four different configurations. According to the press release from V2com: "A Franco-Danish client, a Norwegian architect, a common attraction for design and natural materials. It was from this exceptional meeting that the 48° Nord project was born. Breitenbach landscape hotel encapsulates daring architecture and design, a spirit of well-being and a sharp culinary culture. By uniting local identity with the landscape through forms still unseen in the region, the architect gave 48° Nord a unique architectural expression." Tree Hytte. Florent Michel @11h45 The designs are interesting and not what you would normally see in a hotel designed for a wide range of people, with lots of stairs and the bedroom on a different level as the sleeping area, as you see here in the Tree Hytte: Tree Hytte. Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter & ASP Architecture It has a seating area up at the top, probably with spectacular views. IVY hytte. Florent Michel @11h45 The Ivy Hytte has the bed and bath on a single level with the sitting area upstairs. Ivy Hytte. Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter & ASP Architecture The problem here is that the floor area is so tight that you can't get out of both sides of the bed and one person is always climbing over the other. Grass Hytte. Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter & ASP Architecture The only unit that is all on one level is the Grass. Grass Plan. Florent Michel @11h45 It has the bathroom all broken up to save space, but it has a lovely deck to extend the feeling of space. The architects acknowledge the issue of stairs and accessibility: "The 'Grass' hytte, on one level universally accessible, are grouped near the main building. The 'Tree' and 'Ivy,' towering thin and slender, combine verticality and panoramic views. Lastly, the ‘Fjell,’ atop the hill, welcomes families with protected outdoor spaces. Interiors are minimal and rustic, qualified by the light-colored wood, snug built-in furniture, framed views, and spatial contrasts—perfectly embodying the Nordic concept of 'hygge.'" Except that the bathroom doesn't meet any accessibility standard that I have ever seen in Europe or North America, and it is a very small unit. Fjell hytte. Florent Michel @11h45 This raises some interesting and fundamental questions about universal design, which is different from accessible design. It is design that makes life easier for most people of all ages; It was defined by Ron Mace: "Universal design is not a new science, a style, or unique in any way. It requires only an awareness of need and market and a commonsense approach to making everything we design and produce usable by everyone to the greatest extent possible." That means that you generally put bathrooms on the same level as bedrooms because as baby boomers get older, they tend to have to pee a lot during the night and don't want stairs. You don't design beds that you have to climb over your partner. It's just common sense. Back in the day when I was an architect, I designed cabins for a resort in Algonquin park where the bed and bath was on a platform three steps up from the living area; I wanted them visually separated with a better view of the fireplace from above. The owner and I were amazed at the number of complaints about climbing just three steps and why did we put them there. The side of a Fjell Hytte. Florent Michel @11h45 These are beautiful objects in the landscape. They write: "Space, privacy, calm, sobriety, nature and fresh air is the new luxury. Perhaps the antithesis of the traditional luxury; the pomp, the superfluous. Alone, facing the landscape, guests are enabled to find another essence of beauty and comfort in the shifting colors of the season, lights and shadows, the very essence of nature’s qualities." This is fine, but it has to be available, comfortable, and useable by everyone of all ages and abilities. That's truly the new luxury.