A Renovated Apartment in Norway With a Dreamy Loft

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Outside Oslo, one family's remodeled home includes a dark, secluded loft that encourages daydreaming.

In Bærum, a municipality in the outskirts of Oslo, Norwegian studio Austigard Arkitektur transformed a second-floor apartment in a typical, postwar residential building into a dreamy, cabin-like family home with a lofted den.

The building consists of two floors with two residential units occupying each floor. The family owned one of the units on the upper floor.

The building consists of two floors with two residential units occupying each floor. The family owned one of the units on the upper floor.

The owners of the apartment wanted to expand their home vertically and horizontally in order to enjoy more spacious, attractive interiors.

The owners of the apartment wanted to expand their home vertically and horizontally in order to enjoy more spacious, attractive interiors.

The unit had a low ceiling, and because Austigard Arkitektur had previously done an outstanding job with a low-ceilinged structure in an earlier project—Loft Humleveien—the owners decided they would be the perfect team to work on the renovation of their home. 

Named "House of Many Worlds," the impetus behind project was to create depth within the 1,000-square-feet space, so the architects used perforated steel plates to separate the loft area from the large living space below it. Most of the interior surfaces are clad in beech veneer.

Named "House of Many Worlds," the impetus behind project was to create depth within the 1,000-square-feet space, so the architects used perforated steel plates to separate the loft area from the large living space below it. Most of the interior surfaces are clad in beech veneer.

"The darkness in the loft evokes a feeling of the world being expansive," says Austigard.

"The darkness in the loft evokes a feeling of the world being expansive," says Austigard.

"We have tried to create several zones in the house, so that even if you are in the same room, it is possible to do things independently from others. To be alone together," says the studio’s cofounder Tor O. Austigard.  

"We have tried to create several zones in the house, so that even if you are in the same room, it is possible to do things independently from others. To be alone together," says the studio’s cofounder Tor O. Austigard.  

The loft, visually and physically, is the most secluded area of the home with its maze-like feel. 

The loft, visually and physically, is the most secluded area of the home with its maze-like feel. 

"The idea of the loft is that you can be up there, in half-dark, looking down on the life below, like a bat hanging up in the dark ceiling," says Austigard. "The clients—a lively family with three kids—have expressed that they appreciate the opportunity to retreat up into the dark to read a newspaper or book while still feeling connected with family members below."

The dining area has a large table where family members can sit together but engage in different activities, exemplifying how a space can be at once communal and private.

The dining area has a large table where family members can sit together but engage in different activities, exemplifying how a space can be at once communal and private.

A large window affords views of the environment.

A large window affords views of the environment.

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Family members can lead their own pursuits at the communal table, occupying an in-between space.

Family members can lead their own pursuits at the communal table, occupying an in-between space.

Continues Austigard, "When you sit at the big table in the dining area, looking out through the window, you feel as if you are up in the trees. The children often see squirrels or birds along the branches, and probably due to reflection of the glass, the squirrels don't even notice they're being watched." 

 "The loft is deliberately made dark. When you are in the dark, but close to something bright, your focus goes away from your own situation towards that bright situation," says Austigard.

 "The loft is deliberately made dark. When you are in the dark, but close to something bright, your focus goes away from your own situation towards that bright situation," says Austigard.

The living area and a study corner.

The living area and a study corner.

"Since this project was a rebuild, we had to imagine how the final interior layout would look," says Austigard. "During the construction phase, the measurements changed frequently, which meant that we had to redo the design a few times." Austigard cites the painter Edward Hopper as one of his sources of inspiration for this home. Like the works of the American realist, Austigard says he likes to experiment with spatial depth to convey feelings of emptiness and loneliness with an dreamy sense of warmth, homeliness, and comfort. 

The kitchen looks out to woodland views.

The kitchen looks out to woodland views.

The loft is a private oasis for daydreaming.

The loft is a private oasis for daydreaming.

"Wherever you are in the world, you are always halfway somewhere else, thorough your mobile phone, Facebook, etc.," says Austigard. "Even if we are not actually opening our mobile phone, our head is always half present, half somewhere else. I don't think this is a problem. As a creative person I find this comfortable. I thrive in spaces that I feel are well-connected to other places, ideas, memories, fantasies, or stories," says Austigard, who tried to convey this sense of being in-between within the House of Many Worlds. 

Floor plan

Floor plan

Sectional drawing

Sectional drawing

Sectional drawing

Sectional drawing

Sectional drawing

Sectional drawing

Project Credits: 

Architecture and interior: Austigard Arkitektur AS 

Builder: Nytt Prosjekt AS