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House Karkiainen, Espoo, Finland

October 16, 2015

Sanaksenaho Architects

A small family house planned around a sheltered triangular courtyard makes the most of a tight, rocky hillside site in Espoo, Finland. A deceptively simple profile belies the spaces within - calm, peaceful, warm and filled with natural light which spills in through the many windows and skylights.

By Rachel Ang

The Karkiainen House sits on a small property in a densely populated region of  the city Espoo, on Finland’s southern coast. The site came with many constraints: it is overlooked by neighbours living in close proximity, and its terrain is a rocky hillside. Sanaksenaho Architects transform these constraints into exciting possibilities which drive the design, resulting in a unique, striking dwelling which contrasts and blends into its woody surroundings.

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In plan the house resembles an asymmetrical letter A with the top lopped off, offset, and re-joined by a deck. The chunk cast adrift becomes the garage, and the timber deck is a simple threshold welcoming one into the home. Through the door and into the vestibule – this is the pinch point of the ‘A’ – but despite it being the narrowest part of the plan, the double-height ceiling, views of the courtyard beyond, and skylight above carve out a special moment.

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From here the house branches out in two wings – the legs of the A – which are both separated and connected by a triangular decked terrace. Keeping the spaces narrow in plan, structured around a central courtyard, and punctured with windows, floods the rooms with natural light without sacrificing privacy.

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High ceilings and large windows, which draw the forest in, imbue the rooms with a sense of spaciousness and peacefulness.

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The first floor consists of the bedrooms, a top-lit bathroom and sitting room. There is a distinct material change – the grey concrete downstairs is replaced by soft timber floorboards, indicating a passage from open entertaining to more private spaces, as well as reflecting the dwelling’s forest setting.

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An uncovered timber bridge reaches out, connecting the master bedroom and sitting room. It acts as a platform for viewing the landscape beyond, as well as a striking contrast to the all white exteriors. Crossing the courtyard at an acute angle to the rest of the house, from the exterior it completes an abstract and beautiful composition.

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Sanaksenaho Architects

Details

Photography: Tuomas Uusheimo

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