‘We ended up with a dilapidated cottage and an absolutely fantastic plot,’ says Boisse. The original plan was to build a glass house, ‘a house where the surroundings creep in, and the inside and outside become one,’ Boisse recalls, ‘and then one evening we decided to camp on the plot. Not a good idea. We had seen a horror movie the day before and couldn’t sleep due to the wind in the trees. What had been beautiful during the day became spooky at night. So instead, we designed an introverted building that has the ability to surprise.’
The new house is indeed a place of introversion, where the couple and their daughter now live all year round. Based on a perfectly square plan, 16m by 16m, the house is embedded in the landscape, accessed via an external stair that leads down into an entrance hall. The slope of the approach path makes it look like the house is simply a shallow, impenetrable 1m tall structure. It would have been relatively straightforward to make the roof continue into the contours of the ground above it, but Boisse chose to make the distinction in order to avoid the need for railings. ‘The idea was not to create a disappointment for visitors but rather to give them an experience - the feeling that something small becomes big and magnificent,’ says Boisse.
As you descend the entrance stairs, the scale of the house reveals itself, culminating in a view of the lake framed by the black painted timber structure. This façade has no windows, ensuring the interior reveal is a complete surprise. The black painted front doors swing open to reveal a magnificent vista, of trees, leaves and water in the summer months, and a snowy panorama in the winter. The main living spaces have a south-east aspect to take in views across the lake. To the right is a more private zone, with slightly lower ceilings and areas for sleeping, working, and washing. At the core of the house is a rectangular courtyard glazed on two sides to bring light into the centre of the plan.
The kitchen, dining room and living room are all housed in a single open-plan space, orientated to receive the morning sun. Evening light makes its way into the room via the internal courtyard. Polished concrete floors unify the space as well as helping bounce the light from the windows to the walls. The kitchen is based around a freestanding stainless steel island unit, which Boisse describes as ‘a material that lives with the weather - some days it look grey, other days it shines.’ It stands in front of a run of floor-to-ceiling timber cabinets that evoke the surrounding forest. The kitchen mixer tap is VOLA’s timeless KV1, a minimalist Arne Jacobsen-designed one-handle mixer, finished in brushed stainless steel to match its surroundings
Two of the house’s three bedrooms look over the dense forest to the south-west of the house. ‘Here we can lie and watch moose and deer,’ says Boisse. ‘However, our daughter is even more afraid of the dark, so she chose to have her room facing the atrium. In the evening we can lie and wave to each other, we in our bed, she in hers.’ A shared closet, desks, technical area, and a bespoke stainless steel sink line the rear wall at the point where the house is embedded in the site. The sink, which is paired with VOLA’s 111X mixer tap and short spout, is described by the architect as ‘a piece of jewellery in the house.’ It sits beneath a large flush mirror that reflects the main façade, creating a rich illusion of distant forest and water. The bath is a concrete tub rendered in micro-cement, with a VOLA 2171 bath mixer paired with a T2 hand shower.
Viewed from the shore of the lake, the house has a strict geometric formality. The rectangular black forms stand starkly against the winter snow, with the three external loggias divided by four triangular pillars, inside which are concealed the drainpipes for the expansive roof. Carefully hand-crafted joinery work on the façade ensures the slim vertical timber slats have no visible fixings, enhancing the house’s sense of mystery and referring to the verticality of the surrounding woodland. Karlsson and Boisse have created a sanctuary for their family, a serene series of spaces that makes the most of fine detailing and simple materials. The Villa Jägersro encapsulates the fundamentals of warmth and shelter, without compromising its connection to spectacular site.