rectangular volumetry fits carefully into hilly area of helsinki
on the edge of a hilly residential area in helsinki, finland, avanto architects has carefully integrated ‘house J’ to the surrounding landscape and the adjacent structures. adopting a clean, geometric volumetry, the dwelling presents a closed rear towards the north and east where the neighboring houses are, but opens to the south and west, towards the nearby forest. the building wraps around an old pine tree, creating a lap with a sunny and sheltered courtyard, while the natural free forms and lush gardens generate a strong contrasting effect to the rectangular shape of the residence.
rather than being carelessly stacked on top of each other, the floors are arranged strategically, so that the upper levels serve as protective canopies for the lower ones. the cantilevered first floor creates a covering for the entrance on the ground floor, whereas the roof of the ground floor creates a terrace skirting around the courtyard on the first floor. from the ground floor living room, residents enjoy a panoramic view to the courtyard, while from the first floor bedrooms they have expansive views over the neighborhood.
all images courtesy of kuvio
materiality and energy use
the floors are connected by an open stairway with wooden steps hanging from thin metal bars reminiscent of tree trunks in the forest close by. the same theme of levitating wooden planks continues in the sauna room, too. within the interior, avanto architects (find more here) have decided to leave the concrete load-bearing walls exposed, while oak window frames and doors create a warm touch to the concrete surfaces. in addition, artworks on the walls fill the space with lively colors.
during the project’s first phases, the energy use of the building was simulated so that design solutions could be optimized. the building is heated with geothermal energy and ground cooling is used for air conditioning. in this way, house J responds successfully to the client’s needs and wishes, which called for timeless architecture and well-functioning premises for a family of five.