Edge House / JVA

Architects: Jarmund/Vigsnæs AS Architects MNAL
Location: Kolbotn, Norway
Client: Mona Jensen, Morten Isachsen
Project Architects: Einar Jarmund, Håkon Vigsnæs, Alessandra Kosberg
Collaborator: Claes Cho Heske Ekornaas
Contractor: AS Ventilasjonsservice
Project Year: 2005
Project Year: 2006-2008
Constructed Area: 160 sqm
Photographs: Ivan Brodey, Nils Petter Dale

The Edge House is located at Kolbotn, a suburb south of Oslo.

The client, a young couple, asked for a spectacular house on a limited budget. They had purchased a challenging site with 8 meters height difference from the access road to a plateau, and they wanted a house that “looked like you could shoot a James Bond movie in it”.

To save the plateau, the building was pushed towards the eastern perimeter of the site, suspended above the slope on slender columns. The entrance stair rises along the slope through the house up to the plateau.

This strategy avoids costly blasting, hiding the technical connections in the stair. It saves at the same time the existing characteristics of the site, creating a dramatic interplay between volume and site. The entrance condition and the experience from the inside attempts to underline this interplay.

The compact interior is horizontally organized around the cut for the entrance stair. Bedrooms and bathrooms are effectively organized along a corridor.

The main structure is steel, with a polished concrete floor slab. The interior is clad in Birch plywood, the exterior in naturally colored fiber cement boards.

Cite: "Edge House / JVA" 10 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=17879>

15 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Like most Norwegian architecture that is any good, there is always someone spending big bucks. This house is not a limited budget house. It is a specific budget house. Nobody in Norway would ever build anything like this if they were on what people in the rest of the world call “limited budget”. This is again illustrating the sadness of Norwegian architecture, -only when the client pushes and invests, great things come about.

    This is a very nice house, but it’s again one that makes me so sad after studying what other projects are realized in Norway. Why is there no general interest and will to experiment to a further extent with all these seemingly good architects ?

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I don’t think that comment is limited to only Norway. That is the case with architecture everywhere. Clients with lots of money hire talented architects and get great buildings. Clients with little or no money can’t hire great talent. There are a few exceptions of course but that is basically the way the world works.

    I like how this house floats off the hill.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Well, if I was indeed a Marxist, I should definitely love Norway, but I don’t, and I’m not a Marxist anyway.

    I also disagree about the statement that architecture that is good, must be expensive, and I don’t agree that it requires talent to make good architecture. I think it requires serious research, systematic methods of implementation and vigorous discussions of value with the, -pooor, or rich, client.

    Projects made by the wealthy people, are often easier to label “design” then “architecture”. Too much culture in some sense.

    To Tyler : I refuse to be called a Marxist, if you at all want to contribute, then please make a rational argument.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Mr.Cheap – limited budget means just that, as opposed to ‘unlimited budget’. The exact amount is irrelevant. If the amount is not ridiculously small then a good architect will find a clever solution that meets the clients needs, their budget and can still be an exceptional piece of architecture in it’s own right.

    In this case the architects have spent the appropriate amount of money on certain parts of the house. More money on structure for dramatics and less money on cladding. Seems appropriate in this case given the clients wanted a ‘spectacular’ house.

    Norway is not the only country with these woes you talk about. Down here in Oz the same applies, as it does for the rest of the world. Plenty of clients have money to spend on a house for themselves but sadly the architects’ responses in most cases are not worth publishing. This is symptomatic of ill informed/uneducated clients and very mediocre architects. Rant over.

    Beautifully elegant solution on an amazing site. I bet the clients are very happy. I would be.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Most of the work that comes out of this studio is exceptional and this house is too.

    Actually, the approach to siting (as has so often been demonstrated in the work of John Lautner) is the key to the entire approach. This approach is actually rather more economically viable than any alternative and renders and otherwise useless site exciting.

    What I also find interesting is that this project turns the house around to face away from what I would have assumed was the best view. That gives the canyon downslope faced a very expressive formal opportunity that it otherwise might not have. It is, furthermore, indicative of the studios propensity to make very detailed and thoughtful solutions to each projects particular problems.

    As for the economics, those comments demonstrate a poor understanding of architectural economics and the design economy in general. The bespoke suburban villa is not an architectural form that has ever been overly democratic. Even the best attempts at replicability from Wright’s Usonian houses on through to Eames’ use of industrial elements, have ended up elitist and fetishistic design icons. Perhaps in the first half of the 20th century one could be forgiven for believing that industrial processes would democratize good design and render it accessible to everyone. Now, in 2009 there is little excuse to believe in this fairy tale any longer.

    Good architecture ought to be celebrated and not complained about.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I too think it is a beautiful project. There is some obvious Wenche Selmer reference with a modernized touch here. But it doesn’t make it a limited-budget project, and that is my complaint. If people paid up big for something, then don’t try to sell it off as “limited budget”. As a yuppie-people expensive hut it is as good as a lot of other houses in it’s class, maybe even in the top range. All I wanted to discuss was why this thinking does not transcend into other forms of architecture, where budgets are actually limited and constrained ?

    And about the work that comes out of this studio, it is not exceptional every time. They make good small-scale public buildings and private projects (like soooo many other architects do), and they do good details and it’s beautiful for architects and the people that have access to it, but when they work on an urban scale or with economic rhetoric they totally shit their feet…

    Go to norway, they do nothing but celebrate good architecture. It’s what they want to be about, but their “marxist” (if that is what you want to call it) ideals are left in order to participate in this stupid global act of celebrating good architecture like this house.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    And to Terry Glenn Phipps ; if Wright and Eames and the whole 20th century failed at providing industrially made good projects, what has the response been among architects ? That we should make the process of design more accessible ? That more people should have access to the knowledge of architecture ? Never. Architects have continued to celebrate themselves, and try to create the ultimate industrially produced dwelling, instead of making their subject accessible and more open-source. If anything, after Eames and Wright, architects have retreated into their shells overlooking all the thoughtless and unintelligent production of architecture. I’d say the intelligence in work like this house is fine tuned, but it’s totally deaf when it comes to a lot of other work. Everybody wants to celebrate ! Life is a party ! Put scooby doo in your pictures man !

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Mr. Cheap,

    Well, though that is a rather incoherent monologue I guess I do grasp the fundamental point.

    The process of design should be more accessible to whom? What are you referring to here? Accessible is a nice word, like sustainable, and both are really meaningless drivel.

    Whatever does open source mean in the context of architecture? Open source what? It seems to me that building technology is substantially diffused and equally available to all. Frankly, I fail to see what your talking about here. It isn’t like there is a code base or patent art that is being jealously protected by a cabal of price-fixing architects.

    Most architecture has always (since Vitruvius) been thoughtless and unintelligent. Largely it is an ephemeral process that fades with time. The historical fabric of a great metropolis is textured by the examples that survive and the failures are forgotten, torn down, or whatever. All the utopian thinking in the world is never going to change that fact.

    “but it’s totally deaf when it comes to a lot of other work” is sort of a meaningless phrase. If someone does something good should they be listening to everything that is bad? Should no one make good buildings because not everyone can afford them and it makes the average joe feel bad to see a nice building?

    Not everybody wants to celebrate. You seem pretty bent on putting class envy front and center in your arguments. Frankly, class envy doesn’t seem to have produced such great architecture in the past. Most buildings we “celebrate” are representations of the singular or collective ego.

    Sorry, but I am mystified by your Scooby Doo reference. I suppose it is meaningful to you.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I have never introduced class in any of my arguments, -you did. The only thing I have questioned in the context of this rather excellent single family home, is why we celebrate architecture, and to what extent it is an important type of intelligence in society, -beyond the single family dwelling.

    Pherhaps the anger and boredom you read in my comment, is more due to the nausia architecture has caused for itself. If you don’t understand open source as a contemporary expression for all more decision making in society, it is pherhaps due to architectures institutional manner, -conserve, mystify and protect as an oposition to open source. Architecture and the business culture of Apple Macintosh is in many ways comparable. A way for architecture to remain unintelligent and create very limited inventions. In this context, both the presentation of this house (not nessecarily the house itself), and this blog to some extent, keeps me very bored. But it is beautiful !

    How sober does archdaily make you feel ?

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like this house.
    It’s beautiful, but I wouldn’t like too slide down all those icy steps in Norwegian wintertime.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Keep the arguments coming people – it’s good knowledge for newcomers to architecture like me hehehe

    V. inspiring house. I love the angles.

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    To put the first part of the discussion dead; I can tell u that the building cost of this house is about the SAME as u today have to pay for a 3-4 room old apartment in Oslo that is just 2/3 of the size. If other architects get the impression it cost 2-3 times more than the actual building cost, I would say that Jarmund/Vigsnaes did quite a good job, and proves that good architecture is not linked to money alone.

    BTW the stairs can be heated, and is directed in a manner that gives the shortest route up to the house, as living on 2nd floor. Its wrong if people think the intention was to build something spectacular and then put it on pillars on a cliffside. Is quite a site specific project and shows the strength and worth of the role architects can fulfill. The obvious place to build on this site was to build on the flat platou. In doing that there would be no outside area for the owners. By moving the house into mid air the owners “gained” a garden that otherwise would have been lost. The side effect of this pragmatic solution gives a spectacular effect to a “down to earth” project.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Ilove progressive architecture wherever it stands.If site shall govern,art shall create.In this structure I see the
    good marriage of both. Let us keep striving for the best in shelter for humanity,both at the high end, and the lesser. sincerely, Ed

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