Subtly standing out, sat on the harbour of Haugesund, a seaside municipality in Norway's south coast, Villa Riise's white form takes its cue from its context. 

Its creator, Canada-born, Bergen-based architect Todd Saunders, drew inspiration from the sea and the water's proximity. It was clear, right from the start that this building had to relate to the ocean, he explains. 

Take an interactive tour of Villa Riise

The client, a professional diver, has a strong relationship to the sea and asked for a home that protects him and his family from the elements - the area is known for its harsh weather and especially strong winds – but also allows them to seamlessly connect with the outdoors.

This happens in the form of a couple of terraces on different levels of the house, formed through the house's U-shaped footprint, where children can play and adults can enjoy the sunshine. Large openings link indoors and outdoors – also allowing the parents to oversee the play outside while doing housework. 

A sauna is situated on the ground floor, facing the sea. After their daily morning swim, the owner jumps in for a steam session, followed by a stint in the house's gym room. 

More public functions are placed on the ground level, while bedrooms, bathrooms and guest rooms (a generous four of them) are upstairs. The pitched roof is angled inwards, drawing attention to the central courtyard at the heart of the house. 

Orientated to look out to the harbour, which is steadily busy with ships heading for the nearby docks, Villa Riise also draws inspiration from the area's traditional white timber builds. Saunders chose the colour and shape of the house, so that this new build sits in harmony with its built environment as well.