The Folded Roof House in Musk.
The Folded Roof House in Musk, Sweden, by Claesson Koivisto Rune, featured in Nordic Houses by Dominic Bradbury and published by Thames and Hudson.
(Image credit: Åke Eson Lindman)

One of the best things about a cold climate is a cosy house. And, curling up with a book by the fire inside it. This new book, New Nordic Houses, published by Thames and Hudson, would be the ideal read. And from your cosy spot, you’ll discover that Nordic houses are more often than not designed around the fireplace.

Writer Dominic Bradbury, found some other things Nordic houses have in common – saunas, window seats, natural materials and texture. He describes that cosy feeling that they all generate as ‘Nordic warmth’, and traces it back to the Nordic modernists of the 20th century – think Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto, Bruno Mathsson – who adapted the International Style to the Scandinavian climate and culture with an inherently crafted architecture.

Manshausen Island Resort

Manshausen Island Resort, Steigen, Norway, by Snorre Stinessen with Stinessen Arkitektur, 2015.

(Image credit: Steve King)

While the new guard of Nordic architects – including Jon Danielsen Aarhus, Tham & Videgård, Snorre Stinessen, Reiulf Ramstad and Todd Saunders – are designing for a different era, with different needs and lifestyles, Bradbury notes that they stay remarkably loyal to the style and feeling set by their modern predecessors, maintaining qualities such as ‘ingenuity, modesty, informality, connectivity and context’ across their architecture.

The book is divided into chapters ‘Rural cabins’, ‘Coastal retreats’, ‘Townhouses’ and ‘Country homes’ corresponding to typology, scale and locale – the Scandinavian landscape varies dramatically from coastlines, fjords and isles, to forests, woodland and prairies and each house, there are over 40, included in the book is sensitively site specific to its location. Borrowing from the local vernacular, the Gotland Summerhouse in Sweden is an archetypal barn shape, made of pine with a tar-based treatment that blackens the wood.

Fleinvœr Refugium

Fleinvœr Refugium, Fleinvœr, Norway, by TYIN Tegnestue, Rintala Eggertsson, 2017.

(Image credit: Pasi Aalto /

The Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland by Studio Puisto, a series of floating cabins on stilts coated with timber shingles is inspired by another local design, this time traditional Finnish toy cows made of pine cones. With Scandinavia at the forefront of energy conservation and renewables, sustainability is central to many of the designs. A number of houses are off-grid with ambitions to touch the ground lightly with carefully engineered structural systems.

For the Folded Roof House in Musko, Sweden, by Claesson Koivisto Rune, the architects joined forces with prefabrication specialists Arkitekthus to create a timber reinterpretation of the Nordic cabin with a zinc roof. In a remote location of Steigen in Norway, polar explorer and writer Borge Ousland has created the Manshausen Island Resort to make this beautiful and secluded place accessible – here, architect Snorre Stinessen’s four timber cabins project out into the landscape from original stone quays placing the individual directly into nature.

Weekend House, Sildegarnsholmen, Norway

Weekend House, Sildegarnsholmen, Norway, by Knut Hjeltnes Sivilarkitekter, 2016.

(Image credit:

Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Rovaniemi

Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland by Studio Puisto.

(Image credit: Marc Goodwin)

The Gotland Summerhouse in Sweden

The Gotland Summerhouse in Sweden by an architectural team of Jens Enflo and Morten Vedelsbøl with Enflo Arkitekter and DEVE Architects

(Image credit: Joachim Belaieff)


New Nordic Houses, published by Thames and Hudson, 10 August 2019, £38

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.