House Karlsson

House Karlsson, Västerås, Sweden, Tham & Videgård Arkitekter
Project year: 2002
Address: Gräggenvägen 33, VÄSTERÅS, Sweden
Latitude/Longitude: 59.513658,16.531575


At the northern coast of the lake Mälaren in central Sweden sits this one family house. In this former recreational area, most of the small weekend houses has been either extended or replaced by catalogue housing.

The simple constructions of rural buildings and the architecture of Swedish barns and warehouses have been a starting point. Some of their traces can still be seen within the type house sprawl of Tidö-Lindö. A house with space to accommodate visiting children and friends was the will of the clients, a couple in their sixties.

A complete living floor at entrance level, and an upper floor that is only partly finished representing a future possible extension within the house are the two parts of the brief. The plan is strictly based on a cc1200 module with the intention to meet a need for cheap construction. The cost was kept extremely low, thirty to fifty percent less than average, due to the above fact and to the use of standard building components.

The interior space is very light and that comes in contrast to the deep red exterior. The three light shafts that rise through the attic to let the sunlight enter also from above is one of its main characteristics. At the short walls of the open living room one can find two of them and the third marks the position of the stair at the south gable.

The plan combines rooms in a suite with transverse passages by offering several alternative movements through the house. The difference of the interior spaces is further enhanced by alternatively directing the views low towards the garden with the placement of windows. These views are far away towards the lake and the horizon, or high up at the trees and the sky above.

An over sized wooden panel made of heartwood of slowly grown pine and treated with red tar clads the prismatic exterior, a way of reinterpreting the technique of wooden roofs that has been in use for centuries in Scandinavia, mostly in the north and on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

The roof and the facades have punched, freely placed windows in two sizes. The varied interior light as well as the pattern of shadow and light of the outside is complemented by fixed brise-de-soleil shutters complement. The same colour as the facade has been used to all exterior fittings and details.