Following the sun

Nick Myall
Monday 11 Sep 2017

The rooms in this unique wooden house in Finland have been arranged so that they follow the rotation of the sun

This detached house, designed by Teemu Pirinen Architects, with three wings was built in a beautiful lakeside location in Central Finland, offering stunning views of the lake from every part of the house. It was built observing eco-friendly principles and honouring the Finnish timber construction heritage. 

The plot the house stands on is covered by town planning, but hardly any limits were set on the construction. The building that stood here before was a large brick house with direct electric heating, built in the 1980s. It was an expensive house to maintain and, moreover, it offered no views of the magnificent lake scenery. The lawn areas created around the house were full of plants of foreign origin. The owners of the plot decided to demolish the old house and restore the garden to pinewood, which grows naturally in the region.

The client, along with the architect, was an active participant in the development of the concept and wanted eco-friendly solutions that honoured the local building heritage, implemented in a modern way. The client gave the architect complete freedom in all architectural solutions.

The architectural language of the building arose from the desire to make the most of the scenery. Its three wings allow stunning views of the lake from all the rooms in the house without the need to increase its floor area too much.

Instead of providing just one main view of the landscape, the architect has utilised all that the building has to offer. The living spaces open out into 245 degrees of unobstructed lakeside scenery. Only the facade, which faces the garden now restored to a pine wood, is more enclosed.

The rooms have been arranged so that they follow the rotation of the sun: the morning sun shines onto the terrace outside the bedrooms and sweeps round to light up the kitchen and living room by noon. In the evening, the sun casts its beams on the other side of the living room and into the sauna terrace. After the spectacular views, the second most noteworthy element of the house is the convergence of its three wings at the spot where the dining table stands.

The width and height of the wings have been carefully designed according to the importance of the facilities they house. The living room is the highest and widest, while the sauna and bathing facilities are the smallest. The interior is lined with spruce boards that have been UV-protected and treated in a light shade.

The house is timber-framed and has a traditional ventilated base floor. Its structural frame is built from sawn timber. The structures at the point where the wings converge have been reinforced with steel beams. The building’s structures are designed to breathe, in order to provide excellent indoor air quality. The insulation material used is cellulose insulation.

The external walls are clad with untreated Siberian larch, the idea being that the building will age gracefully, creating a beautiful patina.

The building is heated with geothermal energy, and there is also a fireplace in the living room. The building’s energy class is B, which is excellent considering the volume of its external envelope.

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