Not everyone loves to camp
I’m all about encouraging people to get into hiking and spending nights in wild places. However, the fact is, that not everyone likes the idea of spending it in a tent, under a fly or even under the stars and for many folk, a hiking hut based experience is as far as they’re ever going to go in getting into the great outdoors.
For those of us who are comfy under fly, I think that it’s important we don’t think that those who go ‘under timber/iron’ are somehow experiencing less of these amazing places or that they are somehow less valid than catching a few Zzzzz on the ground.
In keeping with my recent love affair with Tiny Houses, I look upon hiking huts (many of which exist primarily for the safety of hikers or skiers from extreme weather) as a type of minimalistic tiny house. Of the huts that I’ve stayed in though, it sometimes feels as though the designers are going purely for function, over form.
The joy of design
You see, I’ve also got this weird architectural style gland. I can’t really explain it, but something happens to me, on the inside, when I see or walk within an amazing piece of architecture. It’s almost as though I feel a physical shift, something moves… and then I smile. I feel it every time I drive over Sydney’s Anzac Bridge. Maybe it’s the shape, the tone, the scale, the lines, the colour or texture – who knows? But something changes within me.
Unfortunately, when it comes to mountain huts, apart from the usual budget constraints, the design seems to focus simply on how many bodies can we fit into the bunks and feed around the living space?
Tasmanian Huts leading design
It’s been so encouraging to see Aussie hiking huts of recent years, being designed with more delight and environmental ethics, rather than something that simply provides shelter. It’s not just aesthetics visually, but in terms of heating and insulation, how they deal with waste and their ability to sit sensitively within the landscape. Some great recent examples have been Lake Tahune Hut on the Frenchman’s Cap Track in Tassie, The Three Capes huts and the surprising shelters of the Wukalina Walk in the Bay of Fires.
Quirky French hiking huts
Further afield, I love what I’ve seen of these delights in France from design collective, Bruit du Frigo. Suddenly I feel all Je ne sais quois?
These take a completely different approach. Rather than blending in (or waving the, ‘it’s-made-of-recycled-materials-and-painted-green’ flag), they’ve gone with an understanding that nothing about our dramatic landscapes blends in… they take our breath away. They make you stop. They make you think. They make you ponder. They make you be.