Refugium of a Forester / Petra Gipp Arkitektur

© Björn Lofterud

Architect: Petra Gipp Arkitektur
Location: Varberg, Sweden
Structural engineer: Peter Bojrup, Structor AB
Contractor: Mattias Andersson, Designwork
Model Constructor: Veronica Carlsson
Project Area: 108 sqm
Project year: 2007
Photographs: Björn Lofterud

The nature reserve of Grimeton is part of Åkulla beech woods area, situated a couple of miles east of Varberg, close to the world heritage of Grimeton. It is a dramatic nature that rises over the flat arable lands along the seaboard.

Highly situated on a plateau by one of the smaller lakes, Rörsjön, the refugium and the barn are solitarily located.

site plan

The barn connects to the newly constructed road. Here the forest opens up and creates a place where the encounter between the modern forestry and the old forest are made visible. Here, the forest guard is working with demands for rational forestry and recreation, for peace of mood and sense.

© Courtesy of

On the top of the hill, the refugium is situated, low-voiced and functional, with the dark introvert façade where only the entrance box breaks the otherwise austere façade. Not before walking along the steep slope towards the house one sees, through the entrance box and the whole building, the magnificent view over the woods and the lake, which with its mist creates an almost bewitching atmosphere.

Windowpanes and picture planes at different distances supported by the guidelines formed by the walls, together with the vertical forest, enhance the drama of these woods; a desire for a strong experience and a sharp contrast between the caring inside and the wild external.

© Björn Lofterud

The two volumes in tarred wood stand on an open foundation and details out of concrete, zinc and teak grants sophistication. The volumes are distinct and the details are carefully made to express the architectural entirety of these two buildings.

floor plan

The varying wood facade folds in under the volume, its corners are mitred and it follows the jutting and suppressed parts, externally as well as internally. The window details are made out of teak, while the fireplace and the exposed surfaces are made out of concrete, for instance the entrance floor and the kitchen- and bathroom work surfaces.

© Björn Lofterud

To build within a nature reserve, it is required to take a stand in regard to the inhabitation of the old forest; humbleness towards the forest despite the interference is necessary. A foundation high above the ground indicates the wish to leave the ground untouched, visually and conceptually. Casting a fireplace effectively states the necessity of making it possible to inhabit the place.

The architectural interpretation of the refugium has the intention to represent a habitation and workplace for the care and administration of the forest in forthcoming generations.

Cite: "Refugium of a Forester / Petra Gipp Arkitektur" 23 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • anon

    The word is Refuge.

    The word Refugium is clearly not the correct word to use in this context. (Refugium relates to Population Biology and specifically an isolated relic population of a once more widespread species.)

    Please correct.

    • Guy

      I think Refugium fits fine. Whats wrong with you.

    • aoo

      is “anon” a correct word for a person? if not, please correct

    • bLogHouse

      Refugium – A small isolated area where extensive changes, most typically arising from changing climate, have not occurred.(Oxford)
      As it seems, the word is used in a metaphorical sense.

      Next time, when nitpicking, research beyond Wikipedia and reference your sources.

  • fokt

    The stairs are derived from Zumthor’s Roman ruins project.

    • R Goldschmidt

      :)) :)) Come on, are you serious? Maybe you are a Zumthor fan (I like his architecture), but what it is with this comment, how did you figure it out? Colser than Zumthor stair is the project of the School bridge of the Li Xiaodong team architects. But those are so far away, and it is used in several countries and time, I talking about the stair, not that coverd entrances. And even so, they are different thing2 items, and in the Roman’s ruin are one single item, and even the material or colors are the same, you can’t put them together.

  • critique

    The chimney doesn’t fit in my opinion. Too powerful for the peaceful elementary form or in a wrong place.
    Still the sensitivity is nice.

    • John

      I think the Chimney looks fantastic. Aesthetically it creates a solid anchor point for a subtle building in what I suspect would be a very harsh winter environment.

      Great building!