Kolman Boye Architects have designed a small cottage on the island of Vega in Norway.
The architect’s description
The house stands on the island of Vega in the Norwegian archipelago not far from the polar circle. The site is distinctive for its grand and harsh northern landscape with wide panoramas of the Norwegian Sea and the jagged mountains rising from it.
Not far from the site, near the ocean shore, stands a group of traditional seaside huts, in Norwegian called Naust, whose forms and materials reflect many years’ experience of building in these conditions. The outermost hut shelters those behind – the huts being placed at odd angles to each other, partly due to topography and partly due to chance. The windowless weathered wooden facades have a straightforward tectonic and a strong material vocabulary.
We believe that good buildings engender the refinement of everyday life, having a curious, evocative and empathic nature. We have aimed to build a contemporary Naust with an unpretentious presence and a distinctive character, developing themes from the vernacular architecture. Seemingly growing from the landscape, the house sits on a rock beneath a granite shoulder negotiating the uneven terrain. As not to disturb the dominant view towards the sea, access to the house is given through a narrow natural ravine densely grown with gnarled birch shrubs and laid out with sea-sand from the nearby shore.
The landscape remains untouched and wild. The large windows of the house face three directions, each with its strong unique characteristic. They are simple and robust in detailing and the optically white glass conveys undisturbed frames of the ocean, the mountain range and the bedrock.
Organized on two levels adapting to the terrain, the plan is compact, providing generous social spaces within a limited floor area. The upper level is comprised of smaller scale bedrooms and family rooms, whereas the lower level is a large gallery-like space structured around a stone hearth.
Completed in linseed oil painted pine with untreated birch skirting, frames and reveals – the interior is kept subtle with a character of being hand-built – promoting tactile qualities and the attractive patina developed over time. Upon completion of the house the clients’ father, who spent his childhood in the close vicinity, visited the cottage. Being able to sit down – for the first time – sheltered from the elements; he stayed seated for several hours silently observing the ever-changing light over the sea.