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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Hill Hut

A commission to design an extension to a villa for two kids in a picturesque lake setting in southern Stockholm. The owner of the old house had met his new wife in Thailand and the couple wanted to move and settle down in Sweden along with her two children. The beautiful nature surrounding the plot and the fact that the house would be occupied by two kids became the main key to the design. Instead of designing a house with expensive materials and detailing we deliberately chose rather cheap windows, facade materials and so on, thus allowing a bigger budget for a more playful architecture. It is much cheaper to get something wonderful done with landscaping than traditional architecture so we made a landscape surface with enhanced elements around and inside the house for the kids to thrive in. Being a kid in Sweden means that you naturally spend a lot of time in the nature which our country have an abundance of and we wanted to give the two new citizens a safe base where they can explore their new surroundings and be able to appreciate it to the fullest.

 To be able to create a steady foundation for the new house, huge earth masses where to be taken away and used to create a hill which we enhanced with different elements such as an outdoor cinema and a sledge slope. A carpet of artificial grass connects seamlessly with the natural grass on the hill and enters via the terrace to the living room between the two children’s room. A custom made grass sofa, a couple of grassy knolls that also functions as lighting make the interior more organic and enhancing the nature experience even further. These artificial hills can be moved around and can be put outside as well. Two pairs of big glass doors on both sides of the room makes one fully take in the surroundings and creates the impression that the nature goes in to the house, this effect is even more apparent when the doors are fully open. The carpet of artificial grass continues out on the other terrace as well as to the hallway and makes a stop just before the old house.

The excavations left a big void under the house. By ordering all the windows from Poland instead of Sweden we could afford to do two secret caves in that void. The caves were made out of concrete with in-cast IKEA drinking glass as small lanterns. One cave is directed to a lush grass knoll that leads down to the lake and is disguised with artificial grass to blend in. The other cave is pointed towards a patch of forest and is left in its raw concrete. Besides from being an excellent hidden escape route, the caves can be equipped with poker tables, hold new found pets from the nearby forest and much more. The caves are accessible from both the outside and from the children’s room by hatches in the floor.

The outdoor cinema has six chairs that are inserted in a concrete foundation in the sloping hill along with a secret compartment for a microwave for snacks and popcorn and a projector. A screen is set up between two trees that also have two bird houses on its trunks which in fact are two disguised speakers for this small outdoor cinema. At daytime this is a perfect place to just take in the lake atmosphere and observing bird behavior, night time is movie time.

The entrance to the new house is a removed window from the oriel and makes the old house inserted in the new building and shapes the walls of the children room next to it.
The hallway that leads to the old house slopes because of the differences in heights of the two houses and makes a nice transition from the traditional Swedish house down to the new and playful one. The children’s rooms are almost as two separate units with the landscape between and around them. Except for the hatches in the floor, the children’s rooms are quite normal with wooden floors and white walls.The house itself follows the municipality’s different regulations such as the pointed roof and the appearance. Wood is the predominantly material in this region, like the existing house and the neighbors. We chose white corrugated metal sheeting that looks like wood from a distance but is more alive and reflecting as one comes closer and gets nice shadow effects from the surrounding trees. Choosing metal sheets also allowed us to have the walls and the roof in the same material which creates a very consistent building. The beautiful setting and the strict whitish house combined with the eccentric landscaping makes it a great place to grow up in.

Hatch to cave

Inside the cave

Outdoor cinema

South-west facade

Facade facing the lake 

Facade facing the entrance - late autumn

West facade - winter 

Front terrace

Outside one of the caves

Axonometry of the landscape





Diagram of movement

Fake vs natural diagram

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Cancer City

A country gentlemen once bought 10000 crayfishes in the 90’s to plant in a stream running through his land. In the autumn he would capture about a hundred of them to eat at the annual Swedish crayfish parties. The crayfishes however slowly started to emigrate to another nearby lake outside the patron’s estate. Desperate of seeing his neighbors feast on his crayfishes, he contacted us to solve his problem.
We decided to help the patron by building him a refugee where the crayfishes could imigrate back. By investigating the condition of the stream we soon found out that it was the lack of stones, hiding places and the lack of calcite that probably had made the crayfishes emigrate. The city planning would focus on solving these issues.

The design became an undulated concrete landscape where the crayfish live inside the hills. The hills are equipped with lids so the gentleman can walk on top of the landscape, capturing his yearly crayfish quota. A white path runs on the construction so the hunter can hunt at night time when the crayfish are as most active. Water proof LED lights are attached inside the hills that attract the crayfish and make them visible for the hunter. The hills have several escape holes and underground safe zones so the hunting won’t be too easy which would be unjust to the crayfishes.

The choice of material was crucial for the success of the project. The construction obviously should be water resistance, the city should be strong enough to carry some full grown persons or animals walking on it, the city should also provide shelter to the crayfishes and the construction should not be too heavy since it should be moved to a remote place where no machines can go. The choice of material became "Butong"; a lightweight slightly transparent concrete invented by the firm with the same name.
Butong is only two centimeters in depth without any metal reinforcement that can rust and the mould could be bendable after casting which enabled us to make an undulated landscape of concrete without having to build time consuming casting forms. Another attribute with Butong is that it includes calcite; a substance that attracts crayfishes.

The exquisite concrete endeavour is now resting in the stream waiting for its inhabitants to arrive. Walking on the flawless craftsmanship just one week after inauguration we met one of the first inhabitants staring at us from its new nest.