In the 20th century, architects designed towers that reached for the skies. But in 17th-century Sweden, they steered their constructions in the other direction: underground.
Known in Swedish as ‘backstuga’ (translation: earth cabins), these partially submerged houses were popular up until the 19th century, when things like central heating and the conveniences of urban living presumably came into style.
Sadly, most of the country’s earth cabins have since rotted into disrepair, but there are a handful still in working order. Located in southern Småland, this one was used in the ’70s by a family seeking refuge from the Russians. Today the daughter of that family has worked to preserve the cabin as a functional abode; check out the eye-boggling photos of the roof renovation here (including charming Google-translated sentences such as "We use these plastic glasses so that moose cannot trample the glasses and cut and fall down with a leg in the window.")
Clearing fallen trees, repairing damage from wandering elk and kicking out the ants that had taken up residence in its subterranean passages, the team of amateur renovators have successfully reclaimed the cosy hovel back from the earth. See more of the pics, and read more about the earth cabin here.
The process involved replacing the roof with a more waterproof one, before re-covering it with its original decades-old moss. Heavy supporting stones were then reset into place, timber was carted through the forest and switched in for the pieces that had rotted away, and a new moose-resistant skylight finally affixed to the ceiling.
Images: The Work of Castor