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THIS BUILD-UP IS OFTEN USED COMMERCIALLY, BUT NOT DOMESTICALLY

CONCRETE QUARTERLY SPRING 06

VillAnn has been designed with the appearance of a set of folded planes by Swedish architect Wingårdh Arkitektkontor, overlooking the sea at Särö, south of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The client couple were looking for a complete contrast to the high-maintenance, historic estate where they had been living.

The site they chose for this permanent home strongly influenced the building's form. The site faces south-west toward the sea and the evening sun, its tapering plot emphasising this focus. The building is essentially a glazed rectangular box, facing in this direction, pulled back as far as the steep slope at the rear of the site. In front of the house is a terrace and then a garden, built up so that the view to the sea passes over a road at the end of the garden.

For this 346m 2, SEK15 million (£1.1 million) home, the enfolding concrete planes shelter largely open-plan living at ground-floor level, partly subdivided by storage units, with two large bedrooms above. And without side windows, these planes also help to provide privacy from neighbours. There is a main entrance from the road via the terrace and a secondary pedestrian entrance on the first floor at the rear, where the ground is higher.

The open-sided box design puts a lot of emphasis on the structural glazing. The argon-filled double-glazing units, including a coating to keep heat in, have a 10mm outer skin of toughened glass to resist the pebbles thrown against them in rough weather.

With this orientation, architect Wingårdh offered various shading options to complement the roof overhang, but the clients chose to do without on both floors. They have good ventilation and some exposed thermal mass helping to stabilise temperatures. And for hot weather there is a fabric-roofed (and, if necessary, curtained) pergola on the terrace for eating out.

The client reversed the normal expectation of precast as the finer facing material. Fair-faced, in situ concrete is used for the exposed concrete exterior envelope, plus interior staircase walls and the fireplace wall. This is cast against ply, with formwork connection-bolt holes left expressed. The remainder of the envelope wall is 90mm of foam insulation, then simple precast units, finished in plaster. This build-up is often used commercially in Sweden, but not domestically. The roof is concrete, with 200-280mm of tapered insulation creating falls under a single-ply membrane.

The terrace terminates in a pool of black-pigmented concrete, with water spilling over its edge to the garden. This parterre, for contemplation rather than walking in, had to cope with very sandy local soil. Most plants are low-growing local coastal species, with some specially prepared beds for herbs.

Outside, the concrete has a silicone coating to reduce water absorption. Inside, the exposed concrete has a silicate coating to control dusting. Bleached Oregon pine is used for both the broad-planked flooring and for all joinery. There is underfloor heating, supplied by a ground-source heat pump (as is the pool) leaving walls uncluttered. Overall, it is an elemental approach to materials and colour that unites the monolithic quality of the building with the spaces within.

Credits Architect Wingårdh Arkitektkontor:

Gert Wingårdh, Joakim Lyth, Danuta Nielsen, Karin Wingårdh Landscape architect Natur Orienterad Design Concrete contractor HA Bygg

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