Saunders Architecture Build Cross Villa


The Norwegian Studio Saunders Architecture has created an island villa in a Norwegian Archipelago, cruciform in its plan and serving as an observatory to observe the surroundings.

The project, called Villa Austevoll, is located on the Island of Selbjørn, which is part of an archipelago south of Bergen. The house has three bedrooms and open-plan living areas, each with its own Terrace offering different views of the land and the sea.

It was commissioned by a married couple who wanted a house that offered cabin quality with simple interiors that respected its coastal and hillside location.

To ensure that the building did not seriously affect the natural environment, Saunders Architecture raised most of the house above the ground to protect the site.

The hut of 285 square meters consists of two volumes, the first of which is a triangular concrete volume that deepens into the slope, forming a base for the main body of the house.

A linear staircase runs along the slope and directs people to the lower concrete volume of the house, which contains an entrance hall, service rooms and a spiral staircase leading to the adjacent upper volume.

An oak spiral staircase passes light through a circular skylight placed just above the staircase, breaking the roof of the upper floor of the house, into the dark entrance hall covered with stained wood.

The entire spiral staircase and its enveloping walls have been built in light oak and lead residents and visitors directly from the lower concrete volume to the upper volume of the house.

The second volume and the main body of the house were laid on the lower concrete volume and protrude from the site on thin steel pillars that give the structure a floating quality.

In the floor plan, the upper level of the house is shaped like a cross and has floor-to-ceiling windows at each end of its four points, offering Villa Austevoll different views of the surrounding countryside.

Unlike the entrance hall, the upper level seems bright and airy, which is achieved thanks to light wood floors and white paneling on the walls and ceiling.

The common living areas occupy the North and south axes of the house and have an open design separated by the spiral staircase in the center of the room.

The living room is located in the north wing of the house and leads to a Terrace protected by an overhanging roof.

Due to the coastal location of Villa Austevoll, the wind and weather conditions influenced the design and shape of the house. This prompted the Studio to incorporate angular walls as well as elongated walls protecting the terraces.

The kitchen and the dining room are located in the south wing. It includes a one-wall kitchen on the entire wall of the room, accompanied by an eight-seater dining table in the center of the wing.

The bedrooms, including a master suite and two other bedrooms, are located in the East and west wings and also lead to covered terraces.

Saunders Architecture was founded in 1998 by Canadian architect Todd Saunders and is based in Bergen, Norway.

The Studio has completed a number of projects in Canada and Norway, including a “ribbon-shaped” house in Ontario and a wood-clad Villa near Bergen overlooking Lake Nordic.

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