There's a reason Scandinavia is the design capital of the world. Well, in reality, there are probably a thousand reasons, but for today we'll stick to the region's beautiful yet humble style of architecture, seen embodied by Kolman Boye Architects' Vega Cottage.

Sitting atop a bed of rock near the Arctic Circle on a barren island in the Norwegian archipelago, this weathered cottage is a stunning example of how design and natural landscapes can enhance one another.

Clad in linseed oil painted pine with untreated birch skirting that will age with exposure, the cottage both blends in the with the striking environment and stands out at once. In this rugged region of the world little grows—at least nothing more than a foot or two from the ground—allowing the cottage to perch atop a rock bluff and gaze out on a rolling ocean, soaring granite peak, and endless uneven, harsh terrain.

The gallery-like main floor centers around a stone hearth, while the upper level splits into a couple modest bedrooms. Vega Cottage is simple, modern alpine architecture at its best.