The summer house is located at the south coast of Norway. The site lies 20 m above sea level, and about 70 m from the shore. From the house one can overlook the sea and coast, but the site itself is intimate and small in scale, surrounded by trees and small rocks.

The client, a married couple, have spent their summer holidays at the property for 25 years, in another cottage. The older cottage is now used by the children and grandchildren. Except for these two houses there are no other buildings nearby. Significant qualities of the site were the view to the sea (southeast), a sloping stone "floor" of naked rock (west) and 7 old pine trees.

The pine trees were highly valued and loved by the client, and the possibility of building a house in between the trees was investigated at the first visit to the site. The ground was surveyed with a computerized levelling instrument, resulting in sonic very precise maps of trees and topography.

The foundation principle is an "adjustable" pattern of concrete pillars: the dimensions of the main wooden beams were calculated so that the pillars could be moved in one direction or another if it interfered with the root system of a tree. More than thirty pillars were erected on the site, and no root was cut. The complete column and beam system in laminated wood was pre-cut and profiled by the wood dealer. The structural skeleton was joined by steel mountings. Walls, windows and doors were installed in the skeleton, leaving the columns exposed on both sides.

The form and extent of the building volumes were carefully planned in accordance with the trunks and branches of the old trees. The ceiling heights of the rooms vary from 1.97 to 2.63 m. The tuning of spatial qualities and views—i.e. the apportioning of closed walls, glass panels and window openings—were repeatedly verified at the site; some openings were decided during the building process, when the main framework of the house was completed.

Several kinds of wood are used to accommodate technical and functional demands (Norwegian pine and spruce, Siberian and Norwegian larch, Norwegian oak, etc.). Different treatments of wooden surfaces are used to resist weather strain and wear and tear. All exterior surfaces are treated with oil. The five degree ventilated roof is covered with zinc sheets.

In spite of the relatively small interior floorage of the house (approx. 55m2) the experience of room is extended by outdoor porches, stairs and open courts. The wooden terrace and the naked rock floor on the west side of the house will most of the day serve as the main "living room." The space is furnished with facilities for outdoor cooking (grill unit) and an elevated herb garden.

The Norwegian summer is short and beautiful, and always longed for. In this context, a summer house could be regarded as "an architectural short story"—a building task demanding the highest intensity and precision.


Summer House
Nipe, Risør. 1995-97







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