Page D3.2 . 10 May 2006                     
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    House for Midnight Sun

    continued

    The architect gave much thought to natural and electrical illumination, indoors and out. On the exterior, uplights accent the tall white pillars. Dark gray aluminum grilles wrap the upper terraces, and window casings are made of the same material.

    The front door is a dramatic red with slotted windows; a sidelight created by a double row of translucent glass bricks marches down one side. The second-story overhang protects the entry. Walkways leading to and ringing the front of the house resemble bluestone but are concrete with an ashy tint.

    Inside Finnish Tradition

    The exterior's clean lines are matched by equally considered interior finishes. Pale, bleached-maple parquet floors harmonize with cool blue-grey walls. In the kitchen, deluxe surfaces include black Finnish granite countertops and anodized aluminum pulls; an induction stove was a client requirement.

    Craftsmanship is also evident in the bathing and vanity areas — shimmering glass, stone, and marble mosaic tiles make up the Jacuzzi surround, and Finnish alder panels were used for the ceiling.

    Other than one bedroom, main entry, and utility areas, the bottom floor is given over to the sauna, which seats five. Its alder walls and benches are lit with a fiber-optic system and a halogen projector. It is accompanied by large, bright bathing and dressing areas.

    Upstairs is where most of the family's time is spent. The living and dining rooms and kitchen are here, along with three bedrooms and a shower bath.

    Spacious, with high ceilings, the communal rooms are flooded in spring and autumn with daylight streaming through large south-facing windows. In summer, the grilles and terrace protect the interior from excess heat gain. Access to the balcony terrace is from the living room. Microperforated gypsum acoustical ceiling tile with an attractive pattern provides a decorative element, while reducing echo in the living and dining areas.

    Pitching against Tradition

    Haikola is especially proud of the slight pitch of the roof and the elimination of typical overhangs. "Eaves are a major headache for Finnish architects," he says. "All the engineers and builders want as long eaves as possible, because they protect the outer walls against the elements. Architecturally, eaves tend to get heavy-looking."

    Flat roofs without eaves and with hidden rainwater drainage are common enough in Finland, he says, but mostly in public buildings such as factories, not in houses. A one-way, gently sloping roof with short eaves was Haikola's approach for this house. "All the ugly rainwater pipes and such equipment in the facade is hidden in the back."

    The clients were very involved in this design, he says, and wanted to make the most of an attractive half-acre (0.2 hectare) site — sunny and with good views provided by a slight slope toward the south.

    "I see lots of awful and contradictory ideas presented to me by new clients in the first meetings," Haikola says. Here, however, the owners had collected a scrapbook of interior details, kitchen designs, and so on, that he found interesting. More remarkably, he found their scrapbook ideas largely harmonious. "So the starting point was much easier than usual."   >>>

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    North and west facades of a house in Oulu, Finland, by architect Matti Haikola.
    Photo: Matti Haikola

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    White-plastered brick pillar and front walk.
    Photo: Matti Haikola

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    Walk up to side door, south facade.
    Photo: Matti Haikola

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    Obligatory sauna, with alder walls and benches.
    Photo: Matti Haikola

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    Site plan.
    Image: Matti Haikola Extra Large Image

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    Ground floor plan.
    Image: Matti Haikola Extra Large Image

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    Upper floor plan.
    Image: Matti Haikola Extra Large Image

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    Section looking west.
    Image: Matti Haikola Extra Large Image

     

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