Bergen-based, Canadian born architect Todd Saunders’ self-designed home is a soaring symphony in Norwegian wood.
Todd Saunders of Saunders Architecture completed his project of designing his own family home in 2014. The house, nestled in an abundant suburb of Bergen, Tveirerås Garden City, is 35m long and 6m wide, consisting of two main structures, cladded in a stained, dark wood.
The suburb was laid out by pioneering local architect Leif Grung in the early 1930s. Grung’s elegant functionalism has weathered well, and the immaculately maintained plots, with their verdant planting and far-reaching views, create an oasis of calm.
About his house, Saunders said “it’s like three sticks, stacked on top of each other.” The residence displays clear modernistic, architectural elements with flat roof, ribbon windows and subtle details. Due to the colder climate of the northern hemisphere, the rooms are warmed by underfloor heating powered by geothermal energy.
The lifted element contributes to the illusion that the house is floating in the forest, as well as creating a covered outside space.
Internally, the first floor contains the main entrance and the storage areas of a bicycle pod, kayak pod and technical pod. A library is situated in the roof of the vertical element, while a large roof terrace can be enjoyed above the horizontal structure.
The first view of the house is up a steep, narrow driveway, from which one gets tantalizing glimpses of the ribbon windows, flat roofs and shuttered facades of the vintage Grungs. in contrast with its dark exterior, the rooms are light and illuminated by large windows. Additionally, the architect collaborated with Hannes Wingate for the interior design, resulting in the use of light and refined materials, mix of Nordic and vintage furniture pieces.
Set on an east-west alignment, just like its 80-year- old neighbours, the new house feels utterly integrated into the site. The last remaining plot in Grung’s masterplan, the land was originally designated as a communal park but had been abandoned to vegetation.
Overall, villa S is an exercise of contemporary house design which addresses the lifestyle, climate, and connection between the natural and built environment- making for an ideal family space.
Born 1969 in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada
Master in architecture from McGill University, Montreal
Company: Saunders Architecture, Bergen
Guest professor at Cornell, New York
Considered one of the world’s five best architects by Huffington Post
Listed on Baunetz’ 100 Best Archictects
Villa S, completed 2014
Villa Saunders in Bergen, written by Tor Kjolberg
All images by Saunders / Bent René Synnevåg