Located in a charming little holiday town in Jutland with the Kattegat on one side and Vejle fjord on the other, you find the holiday home of architect Bjarne Hammer, founding partner of schmidt hammer lassen.
When Bjarne and his family discovered the site in the year 2000, there was barely even a house on it, the only properties there being two shelters. For the first few years, these shelters constituted their holiday home, with one shelter functioning as a temporary kitchen while the other was decorated with bunk beds. However, the family ended up enjoying the open space rooms so much that it inspired Bjarne when he designed the new house.
‘We experienced a new way of togetherness as a family and that was inspiring. The way that we were together when we were in our holiday house was completely different from our everyday lives. Easy living you could call it, but more stemming from the primitive lifestyle that we had to lead at the site; primitive in the sense that the services we were accustomed to were not available, so we had to make do”, explains Bjarne.
The open concept kitchen, dining area and living room are the heart of the house. Also, alongside these, you find six alcoves that can sleep up to twelve people. The alcoves also serve as a place where you can go if you need to withdraw for a bit, as you can pull a curtain to cover the space. A family tradition was to tell stories when they all went to bed at night: each was given one minute to tell a story and then after the one minute was up, the next person would continue the story – this was a cherished family tradition loved by the parents and their three children as they were growing up, although all three children are grown up now and no longer live at home.
The bathroom is the only closed room in the house, in here you find a washing cask from Sweden that Bjarne found and took back home with him.
When the family stays here, it is on completely different terms from their everyday life and routines. There is no television and so cooking has almost become a kind of ritual where everybody helps out. The kitchen is a great gathering place for the family. ‘The architecture becomes a facilitator for the way we socialize when we are here, how we respect one another and how we live, it is not something that we say out loud, it just automatically happens because of the design of the house. When you work as an architect, naturally this is proof of how design really does have an impact on how we live and interact. This is one of the things that good architecture can do,” explains Bjarne.
As you enter the open space you are embraced by light from all sides, making the room seem even bigger than it is; this is also due to the three metres high ceiling and huge window partitions. This ensures the house is filled with light, irrespective of whether the sun is in the east or in the west.
‘We borrow from the outside, making the house seem bigger than it really is. It is only 80 m2, says Bjarne.
What they enjoy the most though is how the open space invites nature inside, when the doors are all open and pushed to the side. ‘Summer in Denmark will always include rain, but we enjoy sitting and listening to the rain and taking in all the scents nature has to offer when it is raining, it is almost like listening to music’, says Bjarne.
It is clear that this place was designed to be a place for relaxation and where one can enjoy spending time with your family, as it is built with materials that do not need cleaning every day – you can run in and out with sand on your feet as it will simply fall down in the small wooden grid as you cross the doorway before you step on the concrete floor surrounding the dining room area, which underneath has underfloor heating.
Bjarne used Siberian larch wood for the ceiling and flooring, as well as for the alcoves. This is also continued outside – as larch does not need any impregnation, it can handle the outside climate just as it is, and furthermore, over time it gains a beautiful silver colour. A typical Danish holiday house is built with wood according to Bjarne who explains, ‘wood is healthy, it can breathe’.