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Guesthouse in Præstø, Denmark

In Præstø, on the Danish island of Zealand, a guesthouse infuses the regional vernacular with Japanese influence.


Copenhagen-based architect Martin Kallesø was tasked with a simple program: create a freestanding guest room so that visitors have a private and cozy place to lay their heads. What ensued was a mashup of local influence, Japanese stylings and irregular geometry.

Though guesthouse is distinctly modern, influences of the traditional architecture of the region are evident in the profile and color.
From neighboring structures, many of which date from the 1960s, Kallesø took the slope of the roofline, materials (larch), and also coloring. The interior, however, has its sources 5,400 miles away. "Last spring I went on a sort of field trip to Japan to study the country's architecture," he says. "There is a tendency to use the same wooden paneling on the floor, roof, ceiling, and walls to create a unified whole."

kallesco cottage exterior
The design eschews right angles on the exterior and interior, which was one of the most challenging aspects of the design for Kallesø.
Though Kallesø spied the ancient architecture of Kyoto to the works of Tadao Ando, it was the Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa that proved to be most influential to him. "SANAA designed this single family house in the middle of Tokoyo that consists of many small white boxes—everything is white, white, white. In that same sense, I tried to translate that overall use of whiteness and the contemporary Japanese way of keeping things very simple," says Kalleso.

Modern guesthouse in Præstø, Denmark
The interior is small, but comfortable. It fits a double bed, coffee table, and chair. The bed is recessed into the wall so as not to waste any space. Natural light floods the interior from a clerestory.
Equipped with a double bed, closet, and window box, the room is a simple yet peaceful retreat. The interior boasts and extra wide window box, which is long enough for Kalleso to sleep in and is his favorite aspect of the design. From the window, there is an unobstructed view through the garden and above, a skylight that frames a birdhouse that's been a longstanding home to a neighborhood owl.

The floor plan of the guesthouse.

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