This Oslo house is a suburban cabin in the woods

An Oslo house designed like a retreat, Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen, offers the perfect balance between urban and rural

dark wood clad minimalist living space with large window inside Oslo house Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen
(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

You'd be forgiven for thinking this Oslo house sits in wild countryside, surrounded as it is by mature trees and perched above long, green and blue vistas. Yet Villa Nikkesmelle, as the residence is titled, was so expertly designed by local architecture studio Gartnerfuglen, that, blessed with an idyllic site, it feels more like a little cabin in the woods than an urban home. 

hero exterior of cabin peeking between trees at Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

An Oslo house like a retreat

To be fair, the home is not located in downtown Oslo. The project sits on a lot on one of Oslofjord's numerous islands – even so, it's not far from the city’s busy centre. But as a result, the architects had to work with a context comprising a protected pine forest rather than the inner city's denser urban conditions. 

man sat at table seen from the outside through glass in modern cabin Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Conceived to embrace its privileged setting, the family home was designed to be fully in tune with the nature conservation area around it. Raised on stilts, the structure weaves between existing trees and opens up towards the outdoors through swathes of glazing. 

interior with large window towards trees at Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Meanwhile, crafted as a modern log construction out of solid pine that remained purposely exposed inside and out, Villa Nikkesmelle creates a dialogue with the natural timber around it. It also provides a nod to the region's building traditions, which have always been inextricably linked to the pine forests of Norway.

man sat at round table surrounded by glazing and trees at Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

The residence is made of of three 'towers', which are linked with glass corridors. Each one of these 'hubs' has a different use – the largest hosts the living, dining and kitchen areas, and the other two house a generous en-suite bedroom each.

Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen looking up between timber volumes outside

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Meanwhile, the journey connecting each hub feels like walking among the treetops, offering an unmissable experience of the leafy canopies and views ahead. 

Villa Nikkesmelle by Gartnerfuglen detail from outside looking through glass

(Image credit: Ivar Kvaal)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director 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), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).