Steinar Jørgensen had been living comfortably in a house on a two-acre lot in Slåttevik, Norway, but he was missing an outdoor space where he could enjoy his property on sunny, temperate days. And then there was the matter of his four children, who range in age from three to 22. It would be nice, he thought, if the older ones could have a space of their own when they were visiting.
Jørgensen had been impressed with a series of tiny artist’s studios that Todd Saunders, a Bergen-based architect, had designed on Fogo Island, off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, and approached him with a request to design something on a similar scale. His only aesthetic requirement was that the structure be "something sculptural" that would stand out and make a statement.
"We just sat down and agreed that it should have a double bed and a little place to put food, and a toilet," Saunders says. Adding a patio was the next logical step. When considering how to integrate the two parts, Saunders designed a wedge-shaped structure with the patio occupying a section at the shallow end that appears to have had a chunk carved out of it—a notion that Saunders reinforced by applying contrasting shades of oil-based stains to the exterior.
The white-stained spruce cladding carries over into the interior of the 162-square-foot building, where it mingles with the white-painted pine floors and the oak countertop on the custom cabinets to create a welcoming and comfortably bright refuge. "It’s pretty much straight-off-the-shelf type of detailing," Saunders says. "Everything in that building you could buy at your local hardware store. We didn’t want to make it complicated."
Less than a year elapsed between Jørgensen’s first meeting with Saunders and the completion of the building in the fall of 2014. "It’s almost like a little exclamation point in the neighborhood, like a little piece of sculpture," Saunders says. "It fits in a nice, strange kind of way."
Will Lamb is a writer and editor based in Jersey City, New Jersey. He served as a senior editor at Dwell from 2013 to 2015.