The Villa G is a little slice of the Hamptons on the North Sea, a white wood-clad structure that manages to be both sculptural and hard-edged, rising up above the sand dunes and scrubs of Hjellestad, just outside Bergen.
Canadian architect Todd Saunders has managed to combine traditional local building materials like wooden cladding with a modernist edge, ensuring the new villa stands apart from its rather more ersatz neighbours. Saunders thanks his progressive clients for the end result. They might have 'simply wanted a modern house that matched the needs of their family', but they were more than willing to go out on an aesthetic limb. 'The client has a acute interest in architecture,' the Bergen-based architect recalls, 'he challenged us the whole time, but never got in the way of our design process.'
From the outside, Villa G is an elegant exercise in sculptural massing. The flat-roofed house is distinguished by expanses of first floor glazing, offering spectacular views across the dunes. With a family room, play area and three children's bedrooms located on the ground floor, the airy first floor is given over to a kitchen and sitting room, as well as a master suite. A terrace surrounds this living area, with an external stair leading down to the garden.
The house is a happy blend of the high tech and the traditional, with frameless glass walls serving as room dividers in the master bedroom and balustrades for the internal staircase, combined with randomly patterned wooden cladding on the exterior. The staircase itself is formed from a solid piece of folded galvanised steel; weighing nearly 1 tonne, it had to be craned into the house through the rooflight.
The large windows bring the rapidly shifting light into the heart of the living spaces, while the client has specified bold pieces of furniture and colourful modern art to counter the white walls and oak floors. The client's meticulously detailed specifications include a precise quantity of closet and storage space - to reduce visual clutter - as well as a seamlessly neat 8 metre long kitchen by Kvikk and a centrally controlled electrical system.
This is a windy spot, and Villa G is sited so as to enclose the external terrace and create a sheltered outdoor space, maximising any available sunlight. It's also generously sized, and the downstairs play area is 'big enough to play team sports', and comes with its own climbing wall. In contrast, the parents' space is described as a 'sanctuary' away from the noise. Calm, restful and light-filled, Villa G is an object lesson in refined contemporary design, a self-contained house that enhances its setting and gives the occupants exactly the type of space they want.