On the remote island of Vega in the Norwegian Sea sits an isolated hideaway for three siblings. Vega Cottage, by Stockholm-based practice Kolman Boye Architects, was built as a haven for the clients to rediscover the area where they spent summers as children exploring the wild Nordic terrain.
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Vega's indigenous architecture is a direct response to its extreme environment. Native fisherman's cabins - known locally as nausts - are commonly found in northern seaside locations. 'The simple quality of the traditional shoreline huts, which families have used for storing fishing equipment, was the inspiration for the [cottage's] contemporary-vernacular design,' says Erik Kolman Janouch, who co-founded the practice with Victor Boye Julebäk, a 2011 Wallpaper* Graduate Directory participant. The architects' intention was to create a modern boathouse, inspired by local architecture and materials.
The journey to the front door of the house - sited on one of the island's rocky hills - is as much an adventure as the building itself. The entrance can be reached only by walking from the car park, 100m away, past a narrow ravine that has gradually filled up with sea sand. 'We didn't want to make a road and spoil the view,' says Janouch. 'The access should be a process. Walking up to the building prepares you for the environment and adapts you to it.'
Split across two levels, into two buildings, the interior follows the natural topography of the landscape. The simple materials used throughout the house are naturally suited to the airy, uncomplicated spaces, which are bathed in light from the panoramic windows. The whitewashed wood walls were intentionally left untreated to emphasise the ageing process of the timber planks, while also communicating a handmade aspect.
The generous windows face in three directions, looking out towards dramatic Trollvasstind Mountain, the lonely vista and the icy Norwegian Sea. 'Waking up in the one of the two main bedrooms, everything is silent and still,' says Kolman. 'Then, looking out one of the windows, you sit and watch an ever-changing wild landscape.'