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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Houses
  4. Sweden
  5. UNIT Arkitektur AB
  6. 2010
  7. Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB

  • 01:00 - 27 October, 2010
Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB
Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB, © Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

© Krister Engström © Krister Engström © Krister Engström © Krister Engström +30

  • Architects

  • Location

    Alingsas, Sweden
  • Architects

    Unit Arkitektur AB
  • Design Principal

    Mikael Frej + Klas Moberg
  • Project Architects

    Frans Magnusson
  • Client

    Anna-Karin and Alf
  • Area

    65.0 sqm
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

From the architect. Around the lake Gärdsken, in the southern parts of Alingsås, a residential area with villas mainly from the 20th century is situated. Originally, these were small wooden two storey houses with a basement in stone and vernacular detailing. Nowadays however, almost every single house is rebuilt and enlarged beyond recognition. The owners of one of the few houses left intact wanted more space as well as renovating the existing house. The first sketches were made in 2005 although the construction did not start until late in 2008 because of the overheated construction market.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

There is a well-developed grammar in Swedish building culture on how to extend a house with a traditional gable roof; usually a ridge is established at right angles to the existing one. To be successful this requires that the extension is subordinate in size. The possibility to build in a completely traditional style was tested in a sketch, but was found too obtrusive because of the size. The new wing “devoured” the old house. Thus we chose instead to aim for maximum contrast in expression.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

On the eastern part of the plot is a beautiful old stand of trees. The proposed movement in this project follows the principle often used in Japanese garden art; first you spot the main vista (the orchard), then it disappears out of view - but is not forgotten. In the third step of the sequence the viewer stands before the garden again. A large custom made shelf is the element that obscures the garden in the second step and forms a filter between the hallway and the living room with its view of the garden.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

A new corridor and entrance is introduced between the new building and the existing house. From this corridor almost all the rooms of the house can be reached and it can also provide a more representative entrance to the living room when necessary. The new living room has a maximum of openness towards the garden, but is closed to the street to ensure privacy. At the same time, the city planning office required window openings in this facade to lighten up the impression from the street. The solution was to shape the aluminium sheets of the facade as a trellis for growing vines. It always takes time for the vines to establish, therefore we have designed a pattern that brings a lifelike quality to the facade in the absence of greenery. The laser cut pattern is inspired by vines and forms a favorable shape for the tendrils to climb on.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

The house is founded on masonry walls. The bottom floor is constructed of 220mm beams while the roof is supported by glulam beams. As the facade material was chosen 3 mm anodized aluminium plates applied with stainless recessed screws on an adjustable framework of galvanized steel profiles. All sheets are prefabricated at the workshop. The extension is heated with floor heating.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

In Sweden there is a long tradition of working with steel sheeting (about 0.6 mm thick), connecting the different sheets with folds to achieve an impervious surface. This technique is mainly used on horizontal surfaces; when applied to facades the steel (about 1.0 mm thick) is often folded into cartridges to achieve stiffness. Both of these applications will result in a buckled and dented surface because of temperature movements combined with the fragility of the thin plate. Japan with the architect Fumihiko Maki as chief advocate has a highly evolved tradition of using thicker sheet metal in facades. These give an entirely different precision and a smooth impression and require new detailing as they can not be shaped on-site by sheet-metal workers. Since we wanted a contrast between the existing and new house, we chose 3mm thick aluminium plates to achieve a high precision.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

Aluminium can be utilized with a raw or anodized surface. Eventually raw aluminium forms an oxide layer, but it’s just one-hundredth as thick as is achieved in anodizing. It also makes a more organic impression with streaks from running water and a living surface. An advantage is however the ability to bend the raw aluminum on the construction site.

© Krister Engström
© Krister Engström

Since we were seeking a precise expression we chose anodized plate. The plates were first processed mechanically and subsequently sent to a finishing company that through an electrolytic process created an oxide layer on the plates to a selected thickness (25 micrometres in this case). This provides a 100-year durability which meets the clients request for minimal maintenance. This oxide is as hard and brittle as the glaze on china in terms of hardness rendering it impossible to perform any kind of processing to the anodized plates without cracking this layer.


We chose to work with subcontractors to the automotive industry for the production of the plates. If one dares to say that the Swedish construction companies often work with a dubious precision, the Saab and Volvo subcontractors excel at a high level. They work with digital fabrication and industry tolerances +/- 0.1mm compared with the permitted construction tolerance of +/- 10mm. Riboverken in Gothenburg, laser cut all of the plates with CNC (Computer Numerical Control) according to our drawings. In this process, it is no more costly to cut a curved line than a straight. With prefabricated plates, you get a clash between two different sets of tolerances; the exact surface and the imprecision of the studded frame. This is addressed by an adjustable framework for the facade plates.


The eye-catching pattern on the gables is a plant motif that are developed by us and translated into digital manufacturing drawings; also laser cut at Riboverken. Laser cutting can be done to a certain thickness. For thicker plates you have to switch to water-jet cutting. Aluminium is available in a variety of alloys and because we wanted a small bending radius and a anodizing we chose alloy 5005.

Cite: "Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB" 27 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


Frank Form · March 07, 2015

great patterns for the facade system

utopianrobot · January 21, 2011

it's great to see projects in cold climates during winter. the hidden gutter is a nice detail. · November 23, 2010
aluminium sheet metal · November 11, 2010 GOD, such a the homes in the images are so beautiful & i just think that get enter into first images Aluminium House . .

o0 · November 03, 2010

Architecture: Aluminum House by UNIT Arkitektur AB [Pictures] - (via @ArchDaily) #design #architecture

Paddy O'Keeffe · November 01, 2010

Cool swedish home

Michael Baugus · October 30, 2010

Old meets very new- Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB | ArchDaily

copacopa · October 28, 2010

well, it`s seems to be a trend to use aluminum sheet-metal.
But please check out this:

I love the Austrian project - the clean details - really well done! there are no scrolls at all!
Unit Arkitektur AB architects - please study!

DESIGN*aRt::archive · October 28, 2010

RT @ArchDaily: Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB #architecture

arhitectura · October 28, 2010

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB: © Krister EngströmArchitects: Unit Arkitektur AB Location: Alingsås, Sw...

DEZIGN · October 28, 2010

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB: © Krister EngströmArchitects: Unit Arkitektur AB Location: Alingsås, Sweden C...

Erik Joya · October 28, 2010

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB: © Krister Engström Architects: Unit Arkitektur AB…

Corporate Punk · October 28, 2010

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i4design · October 28, 2010

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Barry Maguire · October 28, 2010

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB via ArchDaily - © Krister Engström Architects: Unit Arkitektur ...

Architecture+Molding · October 28, 2010

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB: Architects: Unit Arkitektur AB Location: Alingsås, Sweden Client: Anna-Karin ...

Kevin Parent · October 28, 2010

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Bocetos Digitales · October 28, 2010

Aluminum House / UNIT Arkitektur AB: © Krister EngströmArchitects: Unit Arkitektur AB Location: Alingsås, Sweden C...


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