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.
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.