From the foot of the snowy, picturesque massif that residents of Bergen, Norway, call the Seven Mountains, the Tubakuba looks like any number of modernly designed rural cabins. It’s a small cube of wood and glass, perched semi-precipitously upon a rocky incline: the sort of retreat that any writer would give his eyeteeth to call home. But it’s when you approach the Tubakuba from the back that the cabin truly takes your breath away: it’s got an entry portal that looks like a hole torn in space-time.
Designed as part of a workshop at the Bergen School of Architecture led by Espen Folgerø of OPA Form Architects, the Tubakuba’s name reflects its shape: It’s a tiny, 150-square-foot cube of a cabin accessed through a tuba-like horn. In material, the Tubakuba is mostly made up of larch that has been treated with a 19th-century process called Shou Sugi Ban, which burns the wood to help protect it from weather and decay. The tuba-like entrance is made of curved shavings of pine, and skinned with untreated larch, which will turn gray over time.
According to Folgerø, the Tubakuba was designed to be a fun environment for kids. “The entrance is shaped like the mouth of a tuba to experiment with wood as a material, to give children a place to play even if the hut is closed, and to force adults to crouch to get in, even if kids don’t have to,” Folgerø tells me. There’s also a pleasing spatial element to the design, in which visitors who claustrophobically crawl through a tiny hole emerge on the other side to a tremendous, wide-open alpine view.
An off-the-grid hotel room, the Tubakuba is available to stay at nightly, or for visitors to explore during the day if it isn’t otherwise in use. It’s free of charge to rent, but it is only for families with small children. You have to meet up personally at the Parks and Recreation office for the municipality of Bergen to ask for the key. For parents and kids alike, it looks to be a beautiful place to spend the night.