The subarctic might be more famous for its natural wonders than its architecture, but I realised it still has some beautiful human constructions to show, albeit often hidden in the vast wilderness. Now I am back home from another amazing trip to the high north, I thought it interesting to show some of the most beautiful subarctic architecture I have seen on my travels.
I especially love the typical Swedish style of building, with nice, small wooden houses in the brightest red. Scattered through the birch forest, you can see them looking cosy, warm and hospitable.
The Abisko Research Station hosts a beautiful example of one of these typical Swedish buildings represented in their oldest building. If I could believe the proud metal flag on its top, it has been build in 1912 and heralded the start of already more than hundred years of continuous scientific research in the high north. As a scientist, that makes you feel humble.
Another set worth mentioning is the serie of beautiful old train stations scattered along the old ore train line between Kiruna – the mining city – and Narvik, one of the northernmost year-round ice free ports in the world. They are the same in many of the little villages all along the railroad, and they breath an old robustness. I fear they are not in use anymore, but their towers are landmarks visible from far.
And then off course there are the tiny little pieces of architecture in the mountains, made by hiker after hiker and maybe the most impressive example of architecture I could find. The stone men of the mountains, officially called ‘cairns’.
It asks for some pretty interesting balancing to get these pieces of art erected, and they mark trails and the most impressive spots in the mountains. This example was the proud top of mountain Nuolja, more than 1200 meter height of proud rocks overlooking the valley of Abisko’s national park.
I imagine generations of hikers adding their own little stone to the construction, improving its architecture little by little, and keeping the stone men of the mountains alive.