I designed Villa Astrid in the summer of 2002 and Karin completed the details and made improvements throughout the autumn. The site was tucked between two houses and consisted mainly of rugged and fairly steep rock. The detailed plans specified eaves of maximum 3.5 metres high and a roof slope of 14 to 27 degrees. My client had a construction programme for a two-storey building. The answer was to sink the upper floor. That sounds easy, but it took several weeks to design.
Villa Astrid is low and light, standing there beneath a large pine tree at the end of a small lane. There is a car port and a storage room to the left and you enter the building through the only entrance in the otherwise solid gable end. The sunken atrium courtyard makes an astounding impression as you step inside. What appeared to be a low building suddenly becomes three storeys high. For a while, I contemplated covering the entire courtyard with a black mirror of water to create this vision of a six-storey building. The practical aspects had to prevail, however, and this is now a very warm and sheltered outdoor area, ideal for Karin, the new born in the family.
Villa Astrid is an open-plan kitchen, a separate dining room and a large lounge nestled between the atrium and a sea view with the afternoon sun and sunsets. The latter are the reasons for the twist of the house. At the end of the space, there is a work shelf raised one floor above the cascading rock. The gable end facing the rock is mainly a huge insulated glass window that has been sunken into a seam-drilled slit in the rock. The floor below has two children’s bedrooms, a living room and the parents’ bedroom. Swing-sliding doors and insect-proof ventilation openings provide direct contact with the outside in all these rooms.
This is technically probably the best house that our office has designed. The roof is made of cast-in-place concrete, insulated with Foamglas and then clad with metal sheeting. The walls have been built in solid, light-weight concrete, plastered on the inside and outside, and then clad with metal sheeting. The black, pre-patinated, copper sheets will slowly become verdigrised. Released copper ions are bound by limestone gravel around the base of the building. It is pure and requires no maintenance.
Work on the garden has not yet been completed. It has been designed by NOD and consists of a Japanese area outside the kitchen window and backdoor and a pure west-coast meadow under the outlook area.