The Ankersvingen Annex uses material contrasts to connect a family home with the outdoors.
Architect Thor Olav Solbjør doesn’t see wood as just another material choice, he sees it as a way to “communicate with the surroundings.” Tasked with building a 750-square-foot addition to a country home in Jar, Norway, set amid pine forests, his team at SAAHA turned to charred cedar, a traditional Japanese building material created with charcoal, to create a simple, striking extension.
A simple black box in many ways, the Ankersvingen Annex succeeds with its simplicity; it adds space without subtracting from the surroundings. “It was a really neat connection between the house and garden, which was totally lacking with the existing architecture,” says architect Thor Olav Solbjør of SAAHA. “We took the stunning views of the fjord as the starting point.”
Solbjør and his team utilized traditional Japanese techniques to create the midnight-black cedar exterior. Leftover wood from the owner’s farm was charred with charcoal and then stained with ink to add additional depth and a rich tone.
The owners, a couple who work at home, clamored for more space with the new addition. Solbjør created dramatic entrances, such as these stone steps leading into the kitchen, to heighten the contrast between the old and new.
Warmed by the freestanding fireplace, the new living room picks up the visual theme of flat, horizontal lines found on the outside of the annex.
The airy new bathroom contains no traces of the somber exterior finish.
It was vital for Solbjør to highlight the home's expansive view of the Oslo fjord.