A tra­di­tional Scan­di­na­vian de­sign cel­e­brated.


In ar­chi­tec­ture there is a phi­los­o­phy that strives to es­tab­lish har­mony and syn­chronic­ity be­tween hu­man habi­tats and the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. Termed “or­ganic ar­chi­tec­ture,” it calls for a de­sign ap­proach that in­te­grates a build­ing into its site as seam­lessly, and with as lit­tle dis­rup­tion to the nat­u­ral fea­tures of the prop­erty, as pos­si­ble. Of­ten it in­volves ma­te­ri­als and dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ments that unify the struc­ture with its lo­cale, and cre­ate rep­e­ti­tion in its mo­tifs and themes.

In the Nor­we­gian county of Buskerud lies a con­tem­po­rary and min­i­mal­ist Scan­di­na­vian moun­tain lodge crafted from the un­treated pinewood com­mon to the re­gion; it is the epit­ome of or­ganic ar­chi­tec­ture, im­bued with many tra­di­tional char­ac­ter­is­tics of Nor­we­gian ed­i­fices. Fea­tur­ing an­gu­lar de­signs and soar­ing steepled win­dows that pro­duce a kalei­do­scope of light, the chalet presents stun­ning views of the Halling­dal moun­tains ris­ing beyond the sprawl­ing plateaus.

“It’s our be­lief that all ar­chi­tec­ture should fol­low the site qual­i­ties as much as pos­si­ble. So, we placed the home in a po­si­tion where we didn’t have to do a big trans­for­ma­tion or harm the veg­e­ta­tion; it’s a del­i­cate process,” says ar­chi­tect Reiulf Ram­stad of Reiulf Ram­stad Ar­chi­tects (RRA). “You go to the moun­tains to ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture and to think, so it’s very im­por­tant to im­ple­ment this type of ar­chi­tec­ture as a coun­ter­point to con­ven­tional ur­ban ar­chi­tec­ture be­cause it im­pacts how you ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture. In the end, you have a build­ing that is very con­nected to life.”

When RRA took on the Split View Moun­tain Lodge pro­ject, the clients had in mind a home that was ex­pan­sive and not pre­cisely in step with RRA’s or­ganic ide­ol­ogy. The firm’s cre­ative process al­lowed the clients an op­por­tu­nity to clar­ify their needs, re­sult­ing in a home that was best suited to their life­style.

“We con­vinced them to re­duce the size of the foot­print to de­fine very small spa­ces,” ex­plains Ram­stad. “In the dou­ble walls they have fixed fur­ni­ture, so they don’t re­ally need a lot of fur­ni­ture around. And, be­cause you can sit in the walls and niches, an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship is cre­ated be­tween the per­son and the space,” says Ram­stad. Re­ally, one of the most in­trigu­ing de­sign el­e­ments of Split View Moun­tain Lodge is a se­ries of built-in cav­i­ties through­out the home that are like se­cret cub­by­holes. “[The own­ers] told us af­ter­wards that the ex­pe­ri­ence changed their minds, in a way, about how to live.”

The home is con­structed with dou­ble walls, ex­tra in­su­la­tion, and it is heated with a geo­ther­mal sys­tem and two fire­places, to be en­ergy ef­fi­cient and eco­nom­i­cal. RRA po­si­tioned the fire­places where they would be­come fo­cal dé­cor fea­tures: one is an eye-catch­ing, free-hang­ing spher­i­cal fix­ture, and the other a two-sided fire­place cast in glass fi­bre re­in­forced con­crete.

In Nor­way, much like in the Cana­dian land­scape, the cli­mate can be harsh but the scenery and nat­u­ral ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tions are spec­tac­u­lar. Set in the grassy high­lands, which be­come snow-cov­ered dur­ing the win­ter months, it made sense that the home would strive to cap­ture as much of the avail­able scenery and nat­u­ral light as pos­si­ble. This is what drove Ram­stad to cre­ate the unique wing shape that gives Split View Moun­tain Lodge its name.

“We split the home be­cause of the fan­tas­tic nat­u­ral for­ma­tions,” he says. “We wanted to fo­cus specif­i­cally on the view of the moun­tain in one room and, in a dif­fer­ent room fac­ing an­other di­rec­tion, a moun­tain range with a year-round glacier for­ma­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ram­stad, this led to dif­fer­ent shapes and forms in the build­ing, which mimic tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture in Nor­way’s ur­ban re­gions. At the same time, build­ing a home in the high lat­i­tudes of the moun­tains is very dis­sim­i­lar from build­ing a home in a town or city, where “con­ven­tional do­mes­tic pro­grams” dic­tate de­sign.

“Houses in Nor­way can be very tight to­gether to com­bat the cli­matic con­di­tions, and we were in­spired by this. [We] sought to have the two build­ings [of Split View Moun­tain Lodge] re­call this way of gath­er­ing small build­ings to­gether,” says Ram­stad.

From its eco-friendly fea­tures to its near-or­ganic de­sign el­e­ments, Split View Moun­tain Lodge re­in­forces the vari­a­tion found in na­ture and af­fects the way its guests look out into the nat­u­ral world. It’s a true re­flec­tion of or­ganic ar­chi­tec­ture in ac­tion.

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