Competition entry, with PH3 Design, for a trekking cabin that could be used at various sites across Iceland.


The Iceland Trekking Cabins competition, looked to design a series of modern cabins that could be located in various spots across some of Iceland’s most famous trekking paths. The challenge was to create inventive designs that can be duplicated in all sorts of terrain, and help improve access to harder to reach areas of this incredible country.


Inspired by Iceland’s mystical guardians, the ‘Huldufólk’ (or hidden people), the proposal respects the land on which it is constructed, offers a comfortable and protective environment for users & acts as a beacon to guide hikers across the mountain. The distinctive and contemporary design provides a bold and attractive destination for hikers – combining local stone, aircraft construction technology and innovative cladding materials, the HudulKabin goes far beyond the norms of traditional mountain cabins to create a shelter that can operate in a range of states, to both passively respond to, and pro-actively assist hikers in poor weather, low light or if lost on the hills.

The design re-interprets the tradition of creating steinvarða (cairns), reaching out into the landscape to welcome weary travelers. As these extend, they enhance wayfinding and visibility, whilst creating sheltered outdoor spaces, providing an opportunity for users of the cabins to add their own rocks – pro-actively contributing to the ongoing protection of the cabins as well as to improvements in wayfinding for future users.


The project necessitates consideration of polarities: a supple and dexterous yet protected architecture, sensitive to the landscape though guarded from its severity, accommodating for community, but in the company of strangers. Addressing these concerns, successful projects were noted as tactful and concise, reasonably achievable within the constraints of function and site, and recognised for challenging conceptions of utility and form, considering innovation of material and technique over generic application or assumptions of vernacularism.