Design TeamGudmund Stenseth, Tore Schjetlein, Tiffany Otis, Luis Santos
Project ManagerGudmund Stenseth
Text description provided by the architects. The site, located north of downtown Oslo, is part of a neighborhood consisting primarily of villas from the 1930’s. Over the past few years, it has been the subject of an increasing number of densification projects. In this particular case, our client wished to build a house for his family of five in the backyard of a property that has been in the family for generations.
The yard is encircled by traditional wood clad villas, lush fruit trees and the occasional protected maple. In reverence to the surrounding buildings, the house was given a simple cubic geometry. We aimed to create a compact, solid and restrained stone volume, solidly rooted to the ground. The building’s placement on the site is given by general provisions regarding minimum distances to neighbouring properties and roadways, yet succeeds in creating intimate outdoor spaces towards both the south and the north.
The quadraticstructure is punctuated by precise cut-outs for the windows and doors, whose deliberate placement creates varying daylight effects throughout the building’s three floors. The skylight, located directly above the staircase, fills the house with daylight all the way down to the basement, a room which is simultaneously washed by indirect daylight from the deep light well. The way in which natural light enters and is filtered by the building is constantly changing. This reinforces the characteristic traits of the different living areas, while also ensuring varied views and good contact with the exterior environment.
In order to emphasize the massiveness of the dwelling, we chose brick cladding which was laid with unusually narrow mortar joints recessed from the face of the brick in order to give the impression of a dry stacked façade. Except for the exterior doors made of ( ), the palette of materials is mostly muted, and the interior limited to concrete and plasterboard surfaces with a continuous flooring surface of untreated spruce.
The family’s space requirements will likely be under constant change over the coming years, and a flexible plan was a prerequisite. We favoured smooth transitions between different functions, and have planned the bedrooms as natural extensions to the first floor living area.
WOTHOUSE has stemmed from a particularly good relationship with the client and the different craftsmen, and has resulted in a seemingly simple house with conservative land use and precise details.