Architect: Saunders Architecture
Location: Bergen, Norway
Principal Architect: Todd Saunders
Project Team: Geneviéve Charbonneau & Joakim Skajaa
Client: Eli Bakke Sem Olsen & Jan Sem Olsen
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Saunders Architecture
This family dwelling is located on one of Bergen’s most attractive sites, overlooking the southern fjords and the West coast archipelago. The site comprises a rocky outcrop together with some garden space, and as this is a very small site, the intention of the design was to have just as much outside space left at the end as when we started. To achieve this we constructed a 10 cm contour map of the site, allowing us to create a perfect fit between the terrain and the proposed structure.
The main part of the house is laid out over two floors, with the main entrance leading directly into the upper floor from the rear. The house itself forms a long thin structure with a cantilevered balcony at one side, extending 6 m and resting on 3 steel poles. The main façade of the house faces south to the ocean while the balcony offers stunning views to the south and west. The balcony is covered to provide protection from the worst of the Bergen weather, while a band, extruding 60 cm, runs along the main part of the house to give protection from the sun. This feature, running in a continuous line, also lends a stylish graphic to the house. The upper floor is to be used by the parents and the lower floor by their two children when home from university. The lower floor also contains a small (35 m2) guest studio.
Three main construction materials have been used for this project: glass, black stained wood and oiled natural wood. Together, these materials are strong in form, yet simple, and contribute to lowering the impact of the residence on the landscape, which is an important consideration on this delicate coastal site. A good amount of steel has also been used in the construction to allow the creation of large spans as well as the cantilevered balcony. The house is clad in black stained wood, with natural wood between the window partitions. For the bathroom, the absence of any adjacent houses allowed the exclusive use of glass for exterior construction, providing a shower with a view.
Space was a prime consideration for this project and the end result is greater than the sum of the parts, with the design generating more space than we started with. With the two-tier configuration for the site, significant open space on the upper tier is connected by steps leading down to another open area in front of the main façade of the house. In addition to careful positioning of the house on the site, we have incorporated design elements to reclaim as much outside space as possible.