Hjertefølger means heart follower in Norwegian, and the Hjertefølger family are certainly true to their name. After all, it takes a very special kind of force to compel you to move to a remote part of the Arctic Circle, but that’s exactly what this family of six decided to do in December 2013.
Inspired by a vision to create a sustainable and healthy home and way of life for their family, Benjamin and Ingrid Marie Hertefølger have built a unique all-natural house completely covered by a glass dome, on a plot of land on Norway’s Sandhorney island, in the Arctic Circle.
The Hertefølgers knew they wanted to live in an eco-home made of only natural materials – cob (a mixture of sand, clay and straw), wood and glass – but also that it had to withstand the harsh weather conditions of the Arctic Circle. Aware of the robust properties of geodesic domes, they contacted Solardome Industries about a bespoke dome to cover their new house. It had to withstand the heavy snowfalls common to Northern Norway, maintain a uniform temperature throughout the year, reduce ultraviolet radiation, minimise maintenance and act as a greenhouse for the family’s organic vegetable and fruit garden.
It was quite a challenge, but one Solardome Industries gladly accepted. After all it was the perfect opportunity to really test their SOLARDOME PRO technology – a scalable architectural system that allows custom design and manufacturing of geodesic domes between 8 and 25 meters in diameter. The Hertefølgers’ project took just three weeks to be built on site, as a protective shield around their house and garden. With no deep foundations required, it has a very low impact on the environment, which is exactly what Benjamin and Ingrid always wanted. The 15-meter diameter, 7.5-meter tall structure is made up of 360 glass panels and 832 meters of recycled aluminum framework, and has a lifespan of 100 years, without requiring regular maintenance.
But the protective dome is just one part of the Hertefølgers’ awe-inspiring residence. Their true bio-dome features a recycling system that allows them to repurpose all waste as irrigation water and fertilizer for their garden, and solar panels that provide all the energy for their daily needs. They also grow their own food all year round, as Ingrid says she is firm believer in permaculture.
Hertefølger – Norwegian for “heart followers” – wasn’t always their family name, but they changed it a few years ago to reflect their life philosophy. “We built what we wanted to build,” Ingrid said in a recently released documentary aptly named The Heart Followers. “We have only listened to ourselves and what we wanted to do, we went all in.”
“It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks,there will always be someone who disagrees and who thinks what I do is wrong,” the mother of four adds. I believe that the recipe for failure is to try making everybody happy, because it’s not possible.” So instead of worrying about what people may think, the Heart Followers just follow their hearts.
The goal, Benjamin and Ingrid Marie say, is to give their four children a great childhood and to give them the insight they need to manage life on Earth. Instead of spending their time in front of a computer or at a mall, the Hertefølger’s kids swing in hammocks, play in the garden, shoot bows or roam the surrounding forests in search of mythical creatures like fairies and elves. They grow up with a deep sense of appreciation for nature.