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Freya's Cabin

Chris Hodson for Copper Forum 28/2010

The first project using a new alloy in the UK is a symbolic lakeside shelter informed by a fairytale created by its designers Studio Weave.

Studio Weave create places through playing into and exploring the narratives of spaces. They are fascinated by the powerful role that stories play in creating a sense of place. Their work explores how writing stories stemming from the history, geography and eccentricities of a place can create engaging and distinctive design proposals.

Freya’s Cabin is one of a pair of allegorical visitors’ shelters by Studio Weave overlooking Kielder Water, northern Europe’s largest man-made lake. These and four other new shelters along the Lakeside Way – a 27 mile long walking trail around the reservoir – form part of a series of new artistic and architectural interventions within the Kielder Water and Forest Park.

With Freya’s Cabin and Robin’s Hut, Studio Weave have embraced the man-made nature of the reservoir and park, thinking of it as a stage set against which a story can be told. Their two structures have been imagined within a fairytale that the designers wrote specifically for Kielder, inspired by the two sites, mythology and folklore. Within the story, Freya’s Cabin and Robin’s Hut are designed and built by the characters: the real strctures offer visitors evidence of these characters and their adventures.

Freya’s Cabin is the same size as Robin’s Hut, measuring 2.5m x 3.6m x 3.75m tall, and sits about 3m above the Lakeside Way. The Cabin is constructed from CNC-cut plywood layers pressed together, with each layer having a cutout shape like a stage set. The structure is held together with glue and tension rods that fix through pre-drilled holes in every layer. Some of the layers, including the balustrade of the lake-side front, are clear acrylic. This allows light into the middle of the structure and creates a forest-cover-like effect.

The structure is raised up off the group with lots of golden metal ‘stem’s randomly arranged and ‘planted’ into the concrete foundations. Preformed trays of Luvata’s Nordic Royal sheets have been used to wrap the roof, sides and underside of the Cabin. The sheets were perforated to symbolise Freya’s golden tears.

The Story of Freya and Robin

Robin's Hut is on the North bank, on the edge of the woodland amongst fir trees and rocks. Robin built himself a simple wooden structure that he covered in timber shingles ont his site surrounded by water that he felt gave it a remote, island-like feel.

Freya is named after the Norse goddess of love, beauty and fertility. The goddess loves spring, music and flowers, is very fond of elves and fairies, and is known - on occasion of great sadness - to cry tears of gold. Freya loved to take long walks collecting flowers and pressing them to decorate everything around her.

Freya fell for Robin and showed her affection by making him the gift of an intricate cabin in the image of the woodlands he so loved. She chose a spot opposite and aligned with Robin's Hut to give Robin the best chance of seeing the Cabin. she modeled it on her flower press, arranging carefully collected branches to make an enchanted forest. She put Foxgloves at the entrance to invite the fairies in, then pressed everything tight together so the cabin would be strong and crisp and last forever.

When she sees Robin rowing off on an adventure, Freya cried tears of gold and wrapped the cabin in them. Meanwhile, Robin turned his head to look back at the lake he loved and noticed something glinting in the distance. He was so curious that he decided to row back and find out what it was and there, of course, was the golden Cabin and Freya. He was moved by the cabin and invited Freya on his adventure with him.

They didn't leave very long ago, so they are still away adventuring, but if you can find it, you can see Robin's wooden hut and the golden cabin that Freya made for him, facing each other across the lake, awaiting their return.

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