Avanto Architects designs a set of ‘matchbox’ houses in Finland

This small complex in Finland's Espoo comprises two detatched private residences arranged like ‘overlapping matchboxes', explains its creator, Avanto Architects

The two detached residences that make up the Marchbox Houses
The two detached residences that make up the Marchbox Houses complex are made out of low, long, rough bricks in shades resembling pine bark.
(Image credit:  Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Situated in Espoo, a small town in the outskirts of Helsinki, whose growth has rendered it almost a suburb to the Finnish capital, these two houses form a small residential complex designed by Avanto Architects. The site previously housed one single residence, which the architects were called upon to replace with a pair of new, modern structures, so the arrangement of the two volumes and relationship between them was crucial. 

‘The challenge was to solve two detached houses in place of one demolished house so that the buildings would naturally sit on the plot, providing both houses with privacy and the best views,' says the team. Employing old stone fences, existing rocks and pines, the architects ensured a sense of place and continuity is maintained and the two buildings are engulfed in a natural environment that feels coherent and organic. 

Exterior view of a matchbox house

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

The house blocks themselves ‘settled down like overlapping matchboxes', say the architects. The brick facade follows seemingly random patterns, making the exterior lively and close to the surrounding nature, through its shades, which resemble the colour of tree barks. 

Inside, private and more public spaces are arranged around a warm wooden core, complemented by interior design by Poiat. Large openings fill the interiors with light. Bespoke furniture in oak and grey larch is complemented by soft, off-white plastered walls and clean lines to compose a calming, minimalist whole that at the same time feels comfortable and contemporary. Plenty of terraces on all levels enhance the indoor/outdoor relationships. 

Energy efficiency was also a key element in the design, which employs geothermal heating techniques and natural cooling. ‘During the design phase, the energy use of the building was simulated and design solutions could be optimized,' say the architects.

matchbox houses by avanto

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses finland

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses exterior

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses living space

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses dinning area

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses kitchen

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses circulation

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses staircase

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

Matchbox houses detail

(Image credit: Arsi Ikaheimonen)

INFORMATION
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).