Surviving in the Arctic Circle isn’t easy. The weather can drop incredibly low. You might even say that your odds of surviving in such frightfully cold conditions are slim if you don’t find shelter right away. But one Norwegian couple decided to accept the ultimate challenge and live in the Arctic, but they’re not exactly freezing or roughing it. Benjamin Hjertefølger and his wife, Ingrid, built a three-story cob house, which they call Nature House, and the structure is wrapped in a solar geodesic dome, which makes it the most self-sustaining building that you would ever want to live in when you’re in the middle of the freezing Arctic.
To that end, they moved to the island of Sandhornøya and started to design the property so that it could accommodate their entire family, Now, all six of them live in absolute comfort, despite the frightful cold weather outside.
When the family moved into the home on December 8, 2013, they already had all that they would need, like the ability to grow their own food inside the structure, because the conditions outside aren’t always ideal for growing crops.
Now, this home is pretty much like everyone else’s home in the neighborhood. It has a beautiful view, a garage, and children playing. But there’s something different when you walk into this house that other homes don’t usually have.
The inside is made up of a combination of clay, sand, straw, and timber, but it’s surrounded by a dome made up of 360 glass panels that protect the family from the cool weather. And inside the dome, the home is eerily reminiscent of a Hobbit house from “The Lord of the Rings.”
Using solar panels, the family is able to power their amazing home in the Arctic. The home itself was built with the help of Solardome Industries, and that includes the glass and aluminum dome.
Ingrid Hjertefølger finds it comforting that the home has a personal element to it that allows everyone to feel at home, like when she feels like doing a bit of yoga to de-stress during the day. Clearly, everything in the house works the way it was designed for.
But the fact that the dome is made of glass, also means that the family never has to worry about painting or repainting the exterior, and the snow itself will eventually melt away from the intricately designed glass panels.
Today, they’re growing crops during the winter time when it is virtually impossible to grow anything. But even with the dome, growing food is tough because people here spend three months without any sun, and plants need the sun to thrive.
You can expect to find apples, cherries, plums, apricots, kiwis, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, squash, and even melons among the various crops, and it’s all grown indoors!
The gray and black water is reused to water and fertilizing the plants. The family even uses food scraps as compost, and they always make sure to use biodegradable household products to reduce the risk of contaminants in the food that they grow and later eat.
According to the couple, maintaining the wall’s cob structure is hassle free for the most part. Also, it helps that the wooden beams, which are also made of cob, could be long-lasting, so long as they remain dry.
But she admits that the sense of calmness they get from this home wouldn’t have been possible if they had allowed someone else to build their home, or if their house was designed with a conventional look that included corners and straight lines.
But the family said that if they were to build a new Nature House, they’d add double glass to the greenhouse so that the garden would be tropical and not drip in the winter. Other than that, they’ve got everything they need like tranquility and self-sufficiency in every part of the house.