In Slåttevik, Norway, plum trees shade a patch of garden that overlooks a crystal lake. The view so enchanted Norwegian architect Todd Saunders that he helped the garden’s owner complement his little slice of heaven with a 160-square-foot cabin–about the size of a small apartment’s living room–as well as a bright patio for enjoying the outside view, complete with trees growing through the deck.
“We don’t usually do these small projects, because it’s impossible to make money on them,” Saunders tells me. But when Saunders saw the site in person, he fell in love. Building even a small structure can be incredibly pricey in Norway, one of the world’s most expensive countries. But Saunders decided to waive as many fees for the client as possible to work on the project.
In form, the structure is a triangle with a slice cut out of the hypotenuse side, like a wedge. This allows both a cabin and a patio to be integrated into the same simple geometric shape. Two holes cut into the patio allow a pair of plum trees to grow through, perfect for stringing a hammock between. Inside, the cabin has a bed, a kitchen, and a small sitting space. “Just the essentials,” Saunders says. “A great place to spend the afternoon in the sun, a nice place to spend a night, and a great room to wake up to.”
For Saunders, it was a chance to flex his creative muscle without committing too much of his time (the building was constructed in just a few months). “Designing a small, perfectly formed building just gives a tremendous amount of satisfaction back to the architect,” Saunders says. “They provide a certain degree of freedom that larger buildings can not provide. Architecture doesn’t necessarily lose its inventiveness when size and budget are reduced. Many famous architects, such as Toyo Ito, Alvaro Siza, Kazuyo Sejima, and others, started their outstanding careers with small projects.”
You can see more Saunders Architecture projects here.