Triangle House in Norway
by Philip Jodidio
Local zoning restrictions determined both the plan and the height of the Triangle House in Nesodden, Norway, which offers views toward the sea through a surrounding pine forest.
The architects, Jarmund/ Vigsnæs, explain their project in the following terms: "While the exterior views are singularly framed by the window openings, closely related to individual spaces, the interior is treated in a more fluent way with overlapping sequences of space and light in section and plan. This duality of focal and flow is the theme of the building."
Interior floors are made with cast-in-place concrete partially covered by sisal mats. The interior is clad in OSB (oriented strand boards — an engineered wood product formed by layering strands or flakes of wood in specific orientations), while the bathrooms are clad in brushed aluminum panels.
The substantial book collection of the owners, Heidi Gaupseth and Geir Kløver, gives the 275-square-meter (2,960-square-foot) home a real personality and, as the architects point out, softens the acoustics. "The owners claim that they sleep very well in this house," the architects conclude.
The Architects: Jarmund/ Vigsnæs
Jarmund/ Vigsnæs AS Arkitekter MNAL often works on projects "related to nature and preferably in strong natural settings with a harsh climate." The principals of the office are Einar Jarmund, Håkon Vigsnæs, and Alessandra Kosberg.
Jarmund and Vigsnæs were born in 1962 in Oslo and graduated from the Oslo School of Architecture in 1987 and 1989. Vigsnæs spent one year at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, and Jarmund received a master's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. Håkon Vigsnæs worked with Sverre Fehn while Einar Jarmund taught and worked in Seattle.
Both were visiting professors at Washington University in St. Louis in 2004 and at the University of Arizona in Tucson, in 2005. Jarmund/ Vigsnæs was established in 1995 after teaching and independent practice for both partners.
Alessandra Kosberg, born in 1967, graduated from the Oslo School of Architecture in 1995, and started working with Jarmund/ Vigsnæs in 1997. In 2004, she became their third partner. The office today employs 19 architects.
Their work includes the Red House (Oslo, 2001-2002); the Turtagrø Hotel (Jotunheimen, 2002); an apartment for the Crown Prince of Norway (2003); and the Svalbard Science Center (Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, 2005). Their more recent work includes the White House (Strand, 2005-2006); the Triangle House (2005-2006); the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (Akershus Fortress, Oslo, 2006); and a high-rise hotel (Fornebu, 2006), all in Norway.
In addition, the firm has built 16 one-family houses and vacation homes and has ten more in progress.
Of Castles and Caves
"The house," said the Swiss architect Mario Botta in a 1998 interview, "is intimately related to the idea of shelter. A cave carved out of the rock is like a mother's womb. This is the concept of the house that I defend. When I am tired of the world, I want to go home. There I can regain my energy to prepare for the next day's battle. As long as there is a man who needs a house, architecture will still exist... A house should be like a mother's womb."
Though there may be distinctions between a house and a home, the fact remains that the fundamental ideas of shelter, life and death are intertwined with the architecture of the commonplace in every place of dwelling, from cave to castle. The house can be a measure of civilization, wealth or, indeed, intelligence; it is a barometer of existence.
Not every famous architect has chosen to design houses. I.M. Pei, for example, has always privileged civic buildings, first and foremost the museum. Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano and Jean Nouvel, likewise, have indulged little in the art of the private house.
Other famous figures of contemporary architecture find it essential to continue to build homes, in the image of Tadao Ando, for example. Builders of cities and new worlds of architecture, from Wright to Niemeyer, have again and again come back to that most fundamental of architectural acts, the design of the house.
Depending on the architect and the client, a house can be at the very cutting edge of architecture, casting aside notions of the past in search of a new paradigm; it can accept the rules of urbanism while standing them on their head. It can float in the air or emerge from the depths of the earth. Where factors of cost may limit civic architecture to tried and trusted methods, some houses break all the rules, and help architecture to move forward.
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This article is excerpted from Architecture Now! Houses by Philip Jodidio, copyright © 2009, with permission of the publisher, Taschen.