Text description provided by the architects. Background, strategy
The Osthang ski resort was initiated in April 2006. Working closely with the client, we led a record pace design and construction phase where the first flats were handed over in April 2007. Osthang is located in Ramundberget ski resort, towards the Norwegian border in Härjedalennorth westsweden. The five houses clings on to the steep Osthang cliff from where you have a magnificent view towards the surrounding mountain peaks. The site plan originates from the traditional base-court typology that provides Härjedalen with its special rural character. We have organized the buildings along the hillside forming this courtyard with the gables. The project includes four buildings divided in three apartments over two floors and a loft, and an additional house with two apartments. The design is based on an iconographic interpretation of the traditional loft shed. The buildings are constructed of cross laminated timber with fir panelling, like a modern version of the old timber houses. We thought of a solid block of wood that grows up from the terrain and then carved and undermined to make way for the program. Clean, simple details in the meeting between the wood and frameless glazing provide a flush facade, free from disturbing lining and trim.
The five buildings are turned along altitude lines as the traditional farmsteads. The gables of the semi- subterranean houses are free from windows making the plan easily mirrored or repeated. This also gave us an opportunity to distribute the entire vertical loads via a tensile strip in the longitudinal direction between the gable and party walls. In addition to this the CLT framed bay windows additionally reduce the sheering stress. This gives us a space completely free of any visible tension straps, trusses or beams.
CLT, solid timber elements
In Sweden cross laminated timber is a relatively unused material for this type of projects, but it was the obvious choice both for economic and ecological reasons. The material is based on the qualities of the timbered log house. CLT is made up of planks that are tightly glued and thus provides an extremely stable element where tensions in the wood cancel each other out. In addition, the material is heavy and adds to the heat accumulation of the house. As timber naturally absorbs and emits humidity the CLT creates an amazing indoor environment. A solid timber frame takes the best care of natural resources by being a 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent renewable material. At the same time the erection of a CLT frame is extremelyquick averaging on 15 minutes per element giving us a roofed envelope in a day and a half. This was a real cost saver as first fix could be immediately undertaken regardless of the harsh outdoor climate.
The interior colours and finishes consider the contrasts between the bright external ambient light and a warm and cosy interior. To further cut costs and handover time we embraced the roughness in the industrial grade CLT, enhanced it with the simplest electrical fittings, lack of skirting or mouldings, and juxtaposed this with soft and fluffy furnishing. When entering the apartment you are met by an HTC-polished black concrete floor that contrasts with the white spray-painted walls and provide a durable, widespread wet area on the lower floor. The spaces are layered around the meeting between sport and relaxation, contrasting the robust with the soothing. Materiality rather than partitions create clear boundaries between functions where the entrance, bathroom, sauna and drying room provides a unified core to keep snow and wet from the bedrooms and communal areas which, with its tufted wool carpets and waxed floors invite you to unwind and socialize.
Perhaps the most prominent component is the chimney that runs through a pane of glass in the roof ridge. The opening frames a piece of the sky and provides an alternating presence of the sun and moonshine that is reflected into the apartment. The chimney also includes excavation and sewer vent, mechanical exhaust and supply air furnace.
In the type 1 apartment we fitted the wet areas in what we have called a beauty box, a closed volume lined with super-glossy black laminate. On the Inside, when you open the lid, the bathroom, toilet and sauna are tiled in bright red with both silicone and tile joints in the same colour. A one way mirror pane of glass partitions the sauna from the bedroom, through which the sparsely clad bathers can view the mountain ridges without exposing themselves to their fellow guests.
Staircase through the snow
Even though the houses are semi-subterranean, the first floor is bathed in light. Through the glass section on the south elevation we let the sun down through the staircase to light up and heat the black concrete floor, adding to the accumulation of energy. Escalating the stairs the view towards the sparkling icicles hanging from the great Osthang cliff is breath taking.
The large panorama bay window gives a 16:9 HD picture, in the truest sense, of the shifting mountainous landscape. The oriel makes room for rest and contemplation where you get a seamless contact with the environment. The heated glass is automatically turned on in a cold spell or can be manually turned on for comfort if you choose to use the bay window for daydreaming.