Text description provided by the architects. A modern wooden family House between civilization and nature, challenging standard practice.
Dikehaugen 12 is a small one-family home situated amid trees in the outskirts of the city of Trondheim, Norway. The complex comprises three saddle-roof built volumes: dwelling, suana and annex, all constructed in wood and clad with pine shingles. The Dikehaugen project is a commentary on contemporary building practices, the aim is to demontrate (rather than speak of) solutions and thinking which represents an alternative to todays standards. The project aimed at keeping a high standard in planning, materials, construction, and design, with the architect involved in and in charge of all aspects of the building process.
The residential building is energy efficient and enviromentally sustainable. The house is compact but a flexible floor plan allows for much living space, the materials are natural and the construction breathing, the design robust. The building is low-maintenance, the exterior surfaces are unpainted and allowed to age with the weather and indoor surfaces are also untreated wood which do not require surface treatment. The design of the complex, their layout and the building volumes, aims at being distinct, but well tuned to the immediate natural surroundings.
With Dikehaugen I wanted to challenge standard solutions to technical building regulations, but sought to comply with the area plan. The area plan posed strict requirements for indoor area use, allowing a total maximum of 100 square meters indoor floor space, and defined the main shape of the volume as a low structure with a saddle roof, non-shiny materials and earthen colours. This framework resulted in a compact one-family home, which is aslo a good solution if you want an energy efficient house.
Dikehaugen situated in in forested area on the city limits, bordering on ”Bymarka” the green belt which surrounds the urban fabric. The land was damp and shaded, with a small hut sitting in the centre of the plot. I wanted the project to comply with the character of the plot, and not alter the terrain. Little mass was shifted on the site, while the small hut was re-used and redesigned as an annex to the main building. The three buildings are all saddle-roofed, shingle-clad buildings, placed on site to create outdoor spaces, between the buildings, and spaces which transist on the neighbouring forest.
The main house has ground floor concrete construction which is half-way below ground, and a first floor wooden construction with the living area. Eight large wooden frames (2400) were erected first and the exterior clad, closing the building and providing shelter for remaining part of the building. The shelter is an outer skin, separated from an interior, insulated wall by an open air space of ca 1,4 meters.
On the ground floor this allows for a large basement, an uninsulated multi-use space which may comprise parking of cars, bicycles, motorcycles, work-space for ski-preps, carpentry or car-repairs, and storage. On the upper, main floor, the space between the outer skin and inner wall has capsules of deep window niches which provide extra living space in the warm area (but which is too low to be counted as floor space), while the cold area which extends up from the basement includes a staircase, and open space which may be used to hoise up space-consuming equipment like kajaks.
The roof construction has a wide beam span which allows for a large, column-free floor space in the living area as this had to be as open and flexible as possible. The walls of the living space are insulated with 35cm of paper insulation, giving insulation values (0.13 walls, 0.11 roof, 0.13 floor). The 1,4 meter buffer zone between the outer cold wall and the inner warm wall acts as a climate shield, for additional weather-proofing and insulation effect. The window niches may be closed off onto the large inner room to heighten the buffer effect and minimize heat loss through the windows. The volume of the house is simple and compact, the bathroom is centrally placed and the main bedroom does noe require a separate heater becase of its location in the house. The large main room, which also comprises the kitchen, is heated by one air-based heat pump. There is also a wood-burning fire-place with chimney, as a second source of heating is required by norwegian building regulations.
The concept for materials was to use non-synthetic materials where possible. The main material of the buildings is wood, which is used for the main construction and secondary walls, exterior cladding and indoor walls and ceiligns. Wooden materials were delivered from a local saw-mill. As insulation material paper fible is used, leaving the walls open for the diffusion of moisture, with a vapour control but no vapour barrier on the interior, and a wind-breaker in the exerior. The main living area has linoleum flooring, while the extra upstair bedrooms and small entrance area has sisal carpeting. Only the bathroom, where a simple and waterproof material was required, has vinyl flooring. The windows are aluminium which may seem surprising in the context, but which serves the concept of creating a minimum maintenance building.
I bought the plot winter of 2013. After 4-5 months of planning, building started in may 2014.
The house is built in wood / plant-based / recyclable materials. It has simple and sound solutions and a simple, architectural design aimed at giving the house a long lifespan. The house has limited heated floor space, and somewhat more un-heated multi-use space, which provides a lot of flexibility and also gives opportunities for activities on snowy winters and wet summers. The building binds co2 in its construction. When its life-span ends, the building will produce a minimum of non-recyclable waste.
Mine and my banks concern was that there were no buyers in Trondheim interested in a house with an uncompromising architecture, on an inconvenient plot, which emphasised alternative living qualities such as ecological materials and small, smart space (versus an expanse of space and high-tech, embellished design). In reality, the interest for the house was immense. The market offers very little innovative housing today. Most builders invest in standard solutions at a minimum cost and minimum quality, aimed at a large and general group on non-discriminative buyers. It is the responsibility of both investors and architects to provide the buyers the opportunity to make better and more sustainable choices.