Grímsnes, Iceland, 2020
With Davide Perottoni
The design of Torbjörn summer house answers two main goals, that of creating a sheltering space to enjoy nature while being protected from it, and that of seamlessly blending this man-made structure with its natural environment.
The exterior design of the house defines these actions with simple gestures, through shapes and materials that are both inspired by the landscape and a reaction to it. The material and colour of the house, inspired by the red ground which makes up the path leading to it and which gives a characteristic tone to the whole landscape. Among the patchwork of oranges, reds and greys, the simple shape of the house emerges like a volume of rock clad with the same patterns and colours of the landscape it arises out of. It stands, at once within the landscape and separated from it, on a black podium base; it’s very own patch of black lava to elevate it from and solidly ground it in the ocean of shrubs and vegetation surrounding it. From this man made, nature inspired platform, the inhabitants can experience a full view of the surrounding territory from a place that is at once part of it and protected from it.
The house itself works on the same principle, like a beehive perched on the side of a rock at once it shelters from the landscape and projects towards it. Its shape is defined by simple geometries which subtly hide its presence in the landscape while creating massive views and connections to it from the inside. Thus the house becomes a camera with different lenses pointing on the landscape and bringing it back into the house, the big glass openings become screens from which to enjoy the harshest landscape in the most comfortable conditions.
This duality of sheltering from nature and connecting to it permeates the whole house and defines its shape, design and functions. One can look at every space of the house as a different way and time to enjoy and relate with nature. Like the communal living room, where the kitchen with its domestic tools of living faces a view of nature just as big, while in between the life of the house takes place. On the other side, the lounge facing the open fire place explores a more private relation with nature; a social one on one side and a personal one on the other, drinks coffee and food, or book music and the cracking of the fire.
This mediated relation with the landscape is a constant direction for the design, from large windows in the bedroom to the shower-sauna mediating inside and outside in a very practical and experiential way. The house wants to put its inhabitants as comfortably as possible and as fully as possible in between man-made and nature.