The Villa Moelven
Dream home in a wooden maze
“If anyone had told me ten years ago that I would build a house entirely of wood and let it be pure pine, I would have thought they were crazy. And now I sit in this house and think it is just gorgeous,” says Klas Holm, as he enjoys the spectacular views of Erstaviken outside Stockholm. From his dream house – a 300-square-meter, labyrinthine wooden house with nooks and crannies and silver-gray siding that harmonizes with the surrounding nature.
Graphic designer Klas Holm developed an interest in architecture at an early age. When he was five years old his family bought an eighteenth century house outside Uppsala. The house was fairly rundown and throughout Klas’ childhood his father was dedicated to restoring the house to its original condition.
Influenced by growing up “in an ongoing renovation project,” as Klas puts it, he constantly looked at architecture and dreamed of different houses.
The first house Klas designed was a modern functionalist-style house in the Stockholm archipelago. He lived there with his wife Astrid for a few years until they had children. At that point they started talking about how living closer to town might be more convenient.
At the same time, Klas met a man in a business context and they started talking about houses. Klas told him that he had one last house he wanted to build. His real dream home.
“Then he looked a bit slyly at me and said: ‘I have a building lot that you should come and see,’” says Klas.
Shortly afterwards they went to see the lot, which was on the island Ängö in Saltsjöbaden. The man said to Klas: “You can buy this lot from me. I was planning to build my dream house here, but you can take care of it.”
Said and done. Klas sold the functionalist house, bought the lot on Älgö and began thinking about how the new house would be designed. Inspired by his childhood, the idea was born to build a wooden house the traditional way, but using modern technology. A vapor permeable house–a house that can breathe–would provide both a healthy building and a healthy living environment.
Klas contacted Moelven (hence the name of the house), Norway’s largest producer of wood products, and asked if they wanted to be involved in building this fabulous wooden house. Moelven loved the idea. Meanwhile, Klas contacted Håkan Widjedal and Ola Keijer from Arkitektstudio Widjedal Racki to design the house.
“Of course, the drawings for the house were detailed to a large extent, but we also left certain parts to solve on the spot with the carpenters,” says Klas.
The result was an imaginatively-designed house that follows the topography of the site and is therefore built on an incredible 16 levels. Inside, the house has ten stairways, exposed glulam beams and a floor plan with many nooks and crannies that create a maze-like feeling.
The house is built exclusively of Nordic wood. In addition to the glulam beams made of spruce, the house has heat-treated pine siding and ceilings, pine plywood walls and solid pine flooring.
“One reason that I wanted to build the house of wood was that it would feel as if it belonged to the place. And as though I had more or less taken the material from the site,” says Klas.
His ambition has to strengthen the wooden feeling as much as possible. Not to paint the wood, but instead to enhance it through various treatments.
“I realized that over time the wood in the house would age and become a part of the rock it stands on.
In the search for the silver-gray wood surface, Klas took a closer look at copperas, the technology commonly used in the past.
“The copperas takes time and the wood eventually becomes an uneven gray. Siding facing in different directions would be completely different. In this case SiOO:X has an incredible advantage since it grays evenly and quickly. Also, it changes character rather slowly and shifts toward the silver-gray look that I want to achieve.”
Besides the aesthetic result, Klas also appreciates the environmentally friendly properties of wood protection from SiOO:X.
“In addition, SiOO:X has additional properties that are really exciting, since it reinforces and impregnates the wood and protects it from growth of mildew and fungus spores. And the wood gets a runoff surface,” says Claus as he strokes the paneling.
One thing is certain: the Holm family will not be moving from Älgö anytime soon. If ever.
“Living by the sea is our dream. Not everyone can make it work. But when you come to a place like this, where the dream comes true, there is no question. You don’t need to think about it, that’s just the way it is,” he says, and once again gazes out at the magnificent scenery surrounding him, with the sea just 35 meters below Villa Moelven.