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Norwegian abandoned remote turf house becomes cabin getaway

In Norway, owning, building, maintaining a rural cabin is a national pastime. With just 1 person for every 15.5 square kilometers, there is plenty of land for a second home and a natural beauty impossible to resist.

Students from the University of Trondheim have embraced the tradition with “one thing that no other sportsklubb we know of” has: a network of 23 small cabins available to students interested in overnighting in isolated nature.

The group- NTNUI (NTNU sportsklubb)- began in the 1940’s when a former Trondheim student was killed in WWII. His parents donated money and helped build the first cabin named Nicokoia after their son Nicolay.

Today, the student group has built or renovated nearly two dozen “koiene” (huts). All are off-grid, many are only accessible by hiking, or cross-country skiing, several hours. They are all equipped with a working kitchen (a propane or kerosene stove) though the toilet is an outhouse and a local stream serves for drinking water and bathing.

We visited the group’s newest acquisition, Vekvessætra, a nearly 200-year-old farmhouse which they leased from the local authorities and renovated in “the great Norwegian tradition of ‘dugnads’” (volunteer work). Eighteen students spent about two weeks rehabbing the old log cabin, replacing floors, windows, insulation and even installing a new sod roof.

Sivert Eliassen and Siri Hårklau hosted us in what was once a summer farmhouse for local farmers (the area is still grazed by local sheep).

*Photo credit: Daniel Zwick, Egil A. Behrens, and other group members.