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 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.
"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."
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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."
"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.
"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.