The House On The Rock, The Ultimate Refuge In A Norwegian Fjord
Freedom doesn’t only lie in tiny or mobile homes, but in small houses in far-flung places, where nature’s wilderness humanizes again and highlights hidden skills in us which are blurred by the maddening city life. The ideal example is a Norwegian couple, Per and Molden Nielsen, who chose to redeem themselves far from the craze of the big cities, on an island which is only accessible by boat.
They still remember how they fell in love with the place on Skatoy, a small island west of Bergen, when they first saw it. Covered in larch and pine trees, the rocky island lured them with its natural hues highlighted by the sun – the pinkish-grey granite, green of the evergreens and the reflections of the blue water against the cliffs which guard the island like an inanimate Cerberus.
Initially, the two used the cabin as a weekend bolt-hole, but over time the couple, who work as partners in a Bergen architectural practice, started commuting to their office for two months during the summer, returning to the peace of their rocky eyrie each evening. It offers a very different pace of life. “We cook simple food and gaze at the sea,” Molden told the British newspaper The Guardian.
To get to Skåtøy from Bergen involves a one-hour drive, followed by a 10-minute boat trip. Until the 1950s, the island had a tiny year-round population, but when a promised bridge didn’t materialize, its last inhabitants left. Today, there are nearly 30 summerhouses dotted around the island, with the couple’s plot situated on the more sheltered north-westerly side.
The house features a simple one story design, structured into an open space bringing together a kitchen, a dining room and a living room, three bedrooms, a toilet and a shower room. The sole heating source is a wood stove which also separates the kitchen/dining area from the living room. At the bottom of the cliff the two built a boathouse which can also accommodate guests. If they’re too many, the boat can also sleep three persons in it during the cool summer nights.