Modern Housing Report - 1



The Building was designed and built by well-known Norwegian Architects Jamund Vigsnaes "The Farm House".  Built in 2008 at Toten, Norway 165 sqr mtrs.  The home is a private dwelling and emulates the old barn that remained on the client’s property to be demolished.

Space was an essential element of the design and one the designers seem to be very good at achieving.  Wooden cladding has been used similar to the local architecture and Norwegian barn styles.  Numerous windows of various shapes and positioning have been included, this allows light to stream through the building throughout the day.  It also gives an artistic flare to the buildings facade.

The Architects

The primary Architects Elinar Jamund and Hakon Vigsnaesis founding partners of Architectural firm AS (JVA) Architects.  This practice began in 1996, Oslo.  Both Architects were born in 1962 and graduated from Oslo School of Architecture in 1987/89. It is a large practice and very weel recognised throughout Norway and Europe. Thier work emcompasses, commercial to small residential such as public buildings and housing projects in Norway and Europe.  

The firm which operates out of Oslo, Norway also undertakes work in Urban Planning and Interiors.  In 2004 Architect Alessandra Kosberg became a designated partner.

The firm undertake projects which are “one off’s” using their own architectural style and ideas from their client’s rather than modern day “general” design.  A book has been written about the Architects and their practice, it is an interesting read.

Below are some of the well-known projects designed by the practice;

  • Gullesfjord Weight Control Station
  • Dune House
  • Oslo International School
  • Writers Cottage
  • Viewpoint Nappskaret, Lofoten
  • Oslo School of Architecture
  • Administration Building for the Govenor of Svalbard

The partners of the firm have received worldwide acclaim for their work and lecture and tour in many countries.  For example;

  • The exhibition LOST IN NATURE, which displayed selected work of the energetic, accomplished practice
  • Visiting professors in 2004 at Washington University, St Luis – University of Arizona, Tuscon in 2005 and 2009 Rohde Island School od Design.
  • Jarmund & Vigsnaes selected by Peter Cachola Schmal, Director of Dutch Architect Museum in Frankfurt as one of the best emerging practices for world Architecture
  • The practice won a competition and designed a holiday retreat for Alain de Bottoms Living Architecture project (Phaidon) Dune House

The practice has a strong emphasis on relationships with nature and meaningful buildings.  Their buildings are grounded and stand strong in harsh climates.  The Architects design with a philosophical approach to both modernism and design for the particular location and surroundings to build on.  This gives their buildings purpose, character and a sense of difference in style.  A strong practice was built based on good reputation, uniqueness and competitive winning Architecture.

Additional study for both founders included, Jarmund completed a Master’s Degree at the University of Washington, Seattle, teaching and working in the town.  Hakon spent a further year studying at the Architectural Association in London; he firstly went to work for Sverre Fehn.  The firm employ 17 Architects.

A model of theirs on display, they famously model all of their buildings prior to construction.

Museum of Finish Architecture. 2012. Light House. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

Materials Used in Project incorporating environmental considerations


  • External cladding – re-used barn boards (varied width of boards for visual interest)
  • Structural members – Glue lam beams and sustainably forested spruce
  • Gluelam Roof Beams and spruce frame
  • Insulation – mineral wool (200 mm walls and 400 mm roof)
  • Wooden terrace – Re-used Barn Boards
  • Ikea kitchen installed high gloss melamine coating in a bright interesting red to break up the yellowing look of the timber cladding/finishes

Passive Design Considerations

  • Glazing – double glazing incorporating “Super Energy Glass” most prominent windows on the North and West façade as this takes in the views
  • Stepped glazing on the east elevation
  • Cooling – passive (natural cooling)
  • Heating – combustion wood burning stove - waste wood from the demolished barn
  • Majority of timber used in the construction of the new home was recycled from the 100 year old barn
  • A large eave on one side of the building to protect the interior of the building from the summer sun
  • A water based underfloor heating system


Design composition of house (eg visual perception, symmetry, massing, form, compositional analysis, inflection, contextual design.

The building was an afterthought once the owners of the property and an original 100 year old barn sat on its hill side accommodating weekend guest’s.  The Architects advised the clients the barn was not structurally sound and posed a risk due to its decayed timber supports.

The design was to incorporate the “old barn” concept, as well as reflect the architecture of the modern sister home and modern day barn extensions.

The property itself sits in Lake Mjosa, Toten Norway, on a steep hillside.  Geographically the country is within the Northern Hemisphere (unlike Australia).  In theory one would build the home in a Southerly aspect (opposite to Australia) to take in the most ideal passive heating and cooling elements for environmentally sustainable building practice.  However due to the location of the land and its views to the north facing slope over the lake, the Architect had to come up with solutions to incorporate these views and also rely on passive orientation of the building.

The ultra large windows on the North façade have been used by incorporating Super Energy Glazed windows and an excessive amount of insulation in its walls, this reduces heat loss dramatically.

The entrance to the building is on the South façade and the clever use of room/layout/design, encompasses amazing views to the north, has been achieved by stepping the house down towards the west side of the terrace.  The rooms are visually connected as they step down to give the illusion of space, depth to the building from the interior and magnificent views allowing the landscape and lake to be picture framed from each level and the majority of rooms in the house.

The bedrooms are situated on the Northern aspect while the massive insulated skillion roof slopes upwards to the south elevation.  This allows the low lying winter sun to flow into the home, providing passive heating.

The home also has an internal garden which is opened in winter to capture the heat. The garden is situated to the south facing side of the home. 

Passive heating and cooling is achieved by all of the elements listed above, in such a cold climate, it is essential that these main ingredients of good solar, passive and heating design are essential.

The interior cladding is Scandinavian timber / plywood, durable, light, cheap, easy to install and warming in appearance, this material is most commonly and widely used throughout the Scandinavian countries.

All of the timber used is either recycled from the old barn or from sustainable local forests.  Vapour barriers are located on the inside of the wall frame and wind bracing to the external framing.  Insulation is thick between the wall members (200 mm thick of wool insulation). 

The outside timber cladding from the barn is fixed to the building timber strips.  This provides a ventilation gap of 36 mm wide, so that moisture will not remain trapped beneath the old timber cladding.  The weathered barn boards are in excellent condition, given their age and require nil treatments at the time of construction or to follow.  They are allowed to continue to weather naturally as they have done so for 100 years.  These timber clad pieces would have all been milled by hand, which is why some are larger in size then others.  They have been designed to be diagonal to match the horizon and roof plane.

The project is one to be admired, through the use of old materials the building looks like it has been sitting on the site for ever.  The resources to build the building were limited in production, yet you still have an exceptionally modern home with many more years of life ahead.  This building not only reaches its boundaries of incorporating, modern function, passive approaches and sustainable practices.  It is homely, solid, and comfortable and would engulf the owners and guests like a warm jumper.  A nurturing, happy home full of character and modern day charm. 

I adore the soft yellowing timbers with rich reds and striking colour to liven up the space.  The views would be breathtaking.

From a design perspective I am happy to see the owners and Architects working towards salvaging the old barn.

                                                                         A model with such character

The glass panels mirror the landscape.  The building disappears into the landscape, nature vs Nature – this is incredibly inspiring as a student.

                                                            "FLOOR PLAN "The Farm House"

All images : Jamund Vigsnaes Architects. Undated. Jarmund/Vigsnæs ASArkitekter MNALHausmannsgate 60186 Oslo, Norway. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

One of my favourite "Modern Day" Architects, I enjoy reviewing and reading about their designs and design philosophy. I gain inspiration by educating myself on the works of local and international Architects of the Modern Day. 

I hope you have enjoyed your Friday read.


Norwegian Wood

Jones, W. (Undated), "Norwegian Wood", Green, Issue 19, pp.60-67.

Jamund Vigsnaes Architects. Undated. Jarmund/Vigsnæs ASArkitekter MNALHausmannsgate 60186 Oslo, Norway. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

Dexigner. 2013. Jamund Vigsnaes Architects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

Arch Daily. 2008-2013. Jarmund / Vigsnaes Arkitekter. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

Europoa Concorsi. 2013. Jarmund / Vigsnaes Architects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

Norway, The Official Site in The United States. 2009. The Architecture of Jarmund / Vigsnaes Architects, Exhibition in St Louis. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

Museum of Finish Architecture. 2012. Light House. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 13].

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