Collaborators: Retsloff Snickeri, Bröderna Nordquist, JE:s Svets & Smide, Kåver & Mellin, Metab
Contractor: Upp till Nock
Styling: Styled by Lotta Agaton for Residence Magazine
Text description provided by the architects. A small house situated on a steep hillside overlooking the Stockholm archipelago is the new, country retreat for architect Andreas Martin-Löf. Located in Aspvik above Torsbyfjärden, the property has been within the family since the early 1950’s. The properties original Chinese-style lookout tower was built in 1917 and in 1960 a single-storey, period extension was added.
Early design stages revolved around finding a solution that fitted into the steep landscape, while including all the functions needed for a year round retreat in the Scandinavian climate. The limited access to the site was a major limitation and the construction of a steep, gravel road approaching the house from below was an early necessity.
Even so the difficult access meant that every component was small enough to carry by hand. Building elements including the handmade windows and doors, the hidden steel frame and plywood cladding were prepared in nearby workshops and assembled on site. The only exception being the cast- in-situ, concrete retaining wall and plinth which was pumped from the nearest road. Seen from the top of the hill, the new house appears like a small outbuilding inserted between two pine trees. However, the sloping site allows for a two- storey house without dominating the surrounding nature or panoramic views.
The house consists of a light timber and steel construction, resting on a concrete plinth with external walls angled by 5 degrees, reminiscent of traditional pagoda foundations and a subtle reference to the lookout tower. The façade of glass and black painted plywood is attached directly to the structure. The angled, concrete retaining wall cuts through the lower storey, allowing an infinity swimming pool to the West and morning terrace to the East. The terrace then wraps around the house, transporting the visitor to the canopies of the surrounding trees.
The overall aesthetic is stripped down and minimal yet carefully and intricately detailed. The house reinterprets the ‘60s extension through the custom-made glazing and rectilinear shape and borrows elements, like the gently pitched roof and over-hanging eave detail, from the earlier lookout
The lower floor includes an entrance hall, bedroom, bathroom and a sauna tucked into a crevice in the rocky terrain. A staircase leads up to a single, large room on the upper floor which contains kitchen, dining and living areas. A custom-built bookshelf fits into the structural grid and acts as both storage and a separation between the staircase and the dining area.
The materials are kept raw and relatively simple with a palette of plywood walls, ‘Nero Marquina’ marble and details in polished brass. A combination of luxury appliances and basic off-the-shelf products give an interesting variation throughout the house. Immersed in the classic Swedish archipelago landscape the house secludes its visitors from the everyday stress of the city and exposes them to the unspoilt nature of its surroundings.