Vårdal Arkitekter’s angular concrete and larch house blends seamlessly into a Tønsberg neighbourhood

House
Sem-based firm Vårdal Arkitekter has created a family house in Norway that deftly fuses its indoor and outdoor spaces
(Image credit: TBC)

The skilful integration of indoors and outdoors was the architects' driving concept behind the design of this new house in Norway's Tønsberg, created by Sem-based firm Vårdal Arkitekter (opens in new tab).

'The whole house, including the roof, is made to blend with the existing topography of the area,' explains project architect Håvard B Olsen, who led the design. 'We focused on getting good sunlight in all rooms, views and floating connections between inside and outside.' To achieve this, the modern building is carved asymmetrically into the land; a clear break from the norm within its quiet residential neighbourhood.

Floor map

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

Take an interactive tour of Tønsberg House

When this commission for a new-built family home came in, Olsen was faced with the challenge of creating something that is fresh and contemporary, but at the same time doesn't clash with the area's overall architectural character. The brief - for a home for a family of four - outlined a design that would be fit for the rigours of everyday family life, but would also benefit from ample sunlight, frame external views and provide access out from every level. An additional, separate living space incorporated in the basement, would serve as rental or visitor accommodation.

The house's main entrance is on the ground level. A corridor leads to a double garage and the living areas above. The first floor's open-plan arrangement incorporates kitchen, dining and living areas, which open onto a balcony through a set of large sliding windows. This outside space extends out from the main volume, morphing into the roof of the garage below. The master bedroom and bathroom are located on the same floor, whilst the level above hosts two children's bedrooms and an additional, smaller seating area, which leads to a second south-facing terrace.

A minimal material palette includes concrete and Siberian larch (partly cladding the exterior), which helps the house blend with its natural surroundings. The choice of materials also provides low maintenance surfaces for the busy working couple. The larch used externally acquires a beautiful patina overtime, allowing the house to slowly transform and merge further into the landscape as time goes by.

Snow outside the house

The building is carved asymmetrically into the land in order to channel plenty of daylight into all rooms. 'The whole house, including the roof, is made to blend with the existing topography of the area,' explains project architect Håvard B Olsen, who led the design

(Image credit: TBC)

House with natural surroundings

A minimal material palette includes concrete and Siberian larch, which helps the house blend with its natural surroundings

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

Kitchen

The first floor's open plan arrangement incorporates kitchen, dining and living areas, which open onto a balcony through a set of large sliding windows

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

light wood floors

The muted palette of the house's exterior extends inside where light wood floors, and terracotta and charcoal walls and furniture create a warm ambience

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

Room with stairs

A staircase from the kitchen leads upwards to two children's bedrooms and an additional, smaller seating area, which leads to a second south-facing terrace

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

Kitchen with oven

'We focused on getting good sunlight in all rooms, views and floating connections between inside and outside,' says Olsen of the open plan design

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

dining room

On the other side of the kitchen lies a dining room with a undulating banquette seating made from wooden slats

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

Spacious balcony

A set of sliding double doors leads out onto a spacious balcony that wraps around the front and side of the house, morphing into the roof of the garage below

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

external view

The brief - for a home for a family of four - outlined a design that would be fit for the rigours of everyday family life, but would also benefit from ample sunlight, frame external views and provide access out from every level

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

House

The choice of materials provides low maintenance surfaces for the clients

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)

House

The larch used externally acquires a beautiful patina overtime, allowing the house to slowly transform and merge further into the landscape as time goes by

(Image credit: Kathrine Sørgård and Per Erik Jæger)