Sanaksenaho Architects’ latest house in Finland is small but perfectly formed

Sanaksenaho Architects’ latest house in Finland is small but perfectly formed

Sanaksenaho Architects’ latest house in Finland is small but perfectly formed

Sitting lightly in a densely built up region in Espoo, Finland, House K is a lesson in how to get a lot from a little. Sanaksenaho Architects’ latest residential offering sits on a rocky, woody hillside, subtly standing out with its bright white render, contrasted and softened by the wooden accents of the window frames, bridge and decking.

Transforming a small, overlooked plot into a spacious and peaceful haven, the architects combated the proximity of neighbouring houses by designing an inward facing structure, planned around a sheltered triangular courtyard. House K’s seemingly small profile opens up to reveal a surprisingly spacious, open plan design, where various cut outs in the ceiling play with the volume of the rooms to create a bright and airy feeling. 

Take an interactive tour of House Karkiainen

Despite being the narrowest point of the house, the entrance is bathed in grandeur with a double height ceiling and views onto the terrace beyond. Similarly, the downstairs living area benefits from extra ceiling height, lit up by a long, narrow window; a contrast to the more intimate kitchen area. The staircase is suspended from the ceiling on steel rods, eliminating the need for a clumsy, boxed in balustrade and turning a key structural element into a piece of design. ’We wanted to keep the staircase as open as possible, and our inspiration came from a musical instrument with its delicate, elegant wires’ explains architect Pirjo Sanaksenaho. Crafted out of thin wood, the staircase floats effortlessly without encroaching on the living room space and a bright skylight positioned directly above further emphasises the levity of the structure.

A change in floor material from the grey concrete downstairs to a soft wood upstairs indicates a transition from a public entertaining space to a more private family area. The timber creates a cosy feel to the bedrooms, whilst reflecting the forest setting. A top-lit bathroom creates a calm and meditative space and this sense of tranquillity is continued in the bedrooms, where the wooden frame of a corner window is pushed outwards to provide a place to reflect and contemplate, allowing the owners to literally sit amongst the treetops. Upstairs a wooden bridge reaches out and links the two, otherwise isolated, wings of the house, whilst also providing a second more private outside area which offers a different perspective of the landscape beyond. 

With various windows cut out of the walls whichever way you turn, the architects have transformed a small, cramped plot into a deceptively spacious home, where light and the weightlessness of materials and structure is to be celebrated.

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