Cabins in Norway are traditionally built to gather the family. In this Japanese-inspired cabin designed by the Norwegian artist and architect Irene Sævik in Drøbak outside Oslo, Norway, the purpose has been to gain inner peace. Read more about the Japanese-inspired summer house in Oslo.
The zen-like summer house by Irene Sævik is situated just a stone’s throw away from the shores of the Oslo fjord amidst a plethoria of summer houses and cottages, only forty minutes outside the busy capital of Oslo.
Originally built in the 1960s
The summer house was originally built in the 1960s by the Norwegian modernist painter Salo Jæger and the 430-square-foot cabin sat unoccupied and in partial despair for years before Sævik purchased it and decided to expand. She has managed to do so in true Scandinavian form, following principles of simplicity and respect for nature.
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“The cabin had an appealing expression that inspired me to develop it further – to transform the site and make a stronger connection between house and landscape,” Sævik says. Growing up in the northwest coast of Norway, surrounded by fjords and high mountains, it wasn’t destined that architecture and art were to become crucial parts of Irene Sævik’s life.
Japanese-inspired summer house in Oslo
Norwegian summer cabins are real houses. They are unique and situated where the view is at its best. In return, they must withstand wind, rain and snow. In the middle of the Norwegian summer cottage paradise – at the very end of a green hill between the Oslo fjord and Hallangspollen out towards the Drøbak sound – you find a different kind of cottage.
Inspired by Japanese architecture, the yard is surrounded by a slender gallery enabling one to freely circulate – and enter – between the adjacent rooms. The living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, sauna, restroom, study and two bedrooms all follow one another. The total area is just under 970 square feet. “I tried to make a place where one could stay alone, as well as a good place to be with friends,” she says. “This is not a house, it’s a place,” she adds.
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A contemplative hideout
Due to the rooms being separate the retreat can harbor a larger number of people and yet allow for quiet activities such as writing, reading, painting, as well as listening to music, preparing foods in the spacious kitchen, and conversing.
When Sævik bought the site in 2003, she decided to expand. The house could not be extended naturally due to a rock crunch. She also did not want to add an extension on the rock crunch to capture the view – as many cabin owners would have done in pure reflex – as it would have spoiled the character of the existing house.
Today, a large terrace is ideal for soaking in the sun and the view encompassing both treetops and the fjord arms surrounding the narrow peninsula. The house is divided into three sections connected by a series of outdoor galleries. “When I walk from one room to another, I have to go outdoors and feel the weather and nature – rain, cold, and sun,” says Irene Sævik.
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She compares her house to a contemplative hideout. “It’s very quiet,” she says. “You can concentrate and let thoughts fly.”
Japanese-Inspired Summer House in Oslo, written by Tor Kjolberg
All photos: Ivan Brodey