On a hill overlooking Oslo, in Holmenkollen, past the world-famous ski jump, the ski museum and the statue of King Olav V, you find a residential area with town houses and large detached houses. Because it is built on the very edge of Nordmarka, strict regulations have been set for both design, roof angle, size and color. Read how architects Schjelderup Trondal solved the complicated task of building a house on a hill overlooking the capital of Norway.
Nordmarka with its forests is a popular site for hiking, biking and skiing, and most of the forests are protected, so it is not possible to obtain building permits for houses or cabins. The buildings on this area are therefore relatively massive. The living rooms in the Schjelderup Tronsdal’s single family house are therefor on the top floor, high up below the maximum permitted height where the window locations ensure free lines of sight over the neighbors’ roofs.
It also means that the site is situated at the highest point over the city with a formidable view over the urban landscape, the fjords and hills in the distant horizon.
The three-storey property is partially embedded into the steep slope and is clad in planks of spruce, which have been charred and oiled to highlight notches and irregularities in the timber.
The top floor, which measures 11.7 meters in length, is only divided by a fireplace, a small storage room and a toilet that together create a natural separation between the two living rooms. The kitchen and dining room are placed a bit down from the main living area, partly because of architectonical differentiating of the floor, but also to fine tune the view in the most probable sitting positions in each area to frame the view with as large windows as possible, and at the same time to “hide” the massive developments just in front of the house from the great view. The dining area is similarly leveled for dining chair sitting height.
Well balanced character
Large panels of glazing on both of the house’s gabled ends allow cross-ventilation through the living space from east to west. One is a window, while the other is a sliding door that provides access to a narrow spruce-clad balcony.
All surfaces in prioritized areas are clad with oak, either as solid floor boards or plywood boards, all with same surface treatment – white pigmented wax oil. The materiality gives the clean space dimension. Fireplace, kitchen and all main furnishing are site made by skilled craftsmen in oiled oak and white lacquered aluminum and painted fiberboards.
“The facades are perhaps monotonous, but at the same time well balanced to reflect its character and inner life,” explained architects Stian Schjelderup and Øystein Trondahl.
The entrance floor is compact, with bedrooms and bathrooms stacked in the north-eastern and south-western corners and with a fluid space from the hallway diagonally through to a family room in the end and a square window towards the local trees and hills of Vettakollen. All bedroom- and secondary furnishings are site made from colored Valchromat MDF.
«There was a conscious desire to stay within the regulations with this house, even if they are strict,” says architect Schjelderup. “We are particularly pleased with the top floor, where the view is formidable over the big city and the fjord landscape,» he adds.
The house was built in 2015.
House on a Hill Overlooking the Capital of Norway, text provided by the architects
All images © Jonas Adolfsen