AR House Shortlist: The geometry and materiality of this unconventional dwelling enable it to blend in with its natural surroundings
The archipelago surrounding Stockholm is a unique blend of wilderness and built environment. Nature is ubiquitous. From recreational activities to modes of transport, the archipelago inevitably conditions the everyday and shapes the lives of its inhabitants. Nacka, one of the small municipalities adjacent to the Swedish capital, is home to Hermansson Hiller Lundberg Arkitekter’s Skuru House.
In the midst of a picturesque residential suburb, the austere rectangular volume of Skuru House contrasts with the pitched roofs of the traditional single family houses in the vicinity. The scheme’s stocky trabeated structure is reminiscent of an almost anachronistic classicism and largely accounts for the unconventional character of the dwelling.
The scheme can easily be brought down to just a few primary components whose persistent repetition prompts a rigorous geometrical order, peculiar to Skuru House. The consistent width of both posts and lintels, the repetition of windows along the facades and the symmetrical layout of the plan including the doors mirrored along two axes, all contribute to the coherence of the whole.
‘If the house contrasts with its neighbours, it prefers instead to create a dialogue with the landscape around’
Inside, the programme is simple and reduced to the bare essentials. The plan is broadly divided in two, with the northern half accommodating the more private spaces – bedroom, bathroom, study – while the southern half consists of a single large room with an open-plan kitchen. The unprogrammed space is mainly used by the inhabitants for cooking, gathering and exercising. The glazed doors and windows of the same height start to frame the project’s relationship to the landscape while the loggia, acting as threshold between interior and exterior, provides a sheltered space in direct contact with the elements.
The architects chose to use lightweight aggregate blocks as main building material. Neutral in colour, they give the project a stone-like appearance while maintaining low construction costs. The material continuity between the barren interior and facade treatment further extends to the landscape’s exposed rock faces. If the house contrasts with its neighbours, it prefers instead to create a dialogue with the landscape around.
Both its choice of material and rigour in geometry are what, paradoxically perhaps for the latter, enable the house to blend in with the natural surroundings. If the stocky elements at play in the design are to be expected in a project of much larger scale, an uncanny Minimalist complexity emerges out of the monumental attributes at play. Skuru’s rhythmic whole provides a frame for the rugged nature of Nacka, and naturally becomes part of the context it sits in.
House Skuru in Nacka, Sweden
Architect: Hermansson Hiller Lundberg, Andreas Hermansson, Andreas Hiller, Samuel Lundberg
Photographs: Mikael Olsson
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