House L1 falls neatly within the street of the former fishing community of Limhamn. It connects to the pavement just like the other houses and is the same height as the other houses. Nor does the whitewashed facade stand out significantly. It is an architecture that distinguishes itself in the details rather than the structural features. This is clear when you leave the street and enter the courtyard.
Inside the courtyard, the positioning of the windows changes from the street side – giving the overall impression of a free order – and the apartments take on their own individual expression. Each one is different. Across from the street side building that houses five duplex apartments, there is a building within the courtyard with two residences arranged over three levels. The most striking aspect from within the courtyard is the high sliding glass partitions that reach over two floors. The advantage of these high partitions is, of course, the amount of light that fills the double-height dining areas, but they also provide a welcome opportunity for vistas from the mezzanine and staircase within each home.
Much of the project was about defining and characterizing the room volumes. Sure, each room has different features, but there is something else about the apartments’ solutions. They can be described as a sum of varying volumes. Each room has a different width and height, and different window sizes offer different degrees of daylight, thus imbuing each room with its own type of natural light. For example, the home office area within each of the courtyard house apartments has just a skylight, which creates a studio feel. The materiality of the project was very much about defining and supporting the volumes. White walls, woodwork in oak and grey sandstone floors allow light and shadow to play freely.
The treatment of the rooms can perhaps, be best described as a Nordic asceticism. If you go into a Swedish medieval church there is a sense of kinship. Sober, balanced volumes, rooms without opulence and at the same time, a place that radiates calm and contemplation. Lindvall has often emphasized the psychological power that architecture possesses; that it can refine a man, or at least make one feel calm. The removal of the unnecessary – of what is gaudy and extravagant – is a way of shutting out the urban disturbances, so one can relax.
But the project is as much about creating community as it is about seclusion. A strong social pathos was the basis for grouping the apartments, which is largely based around the shared courtyard. For most of the apartments, the courtyard is an extension of the living area. This is made apparent, not least, by the stone that is used on the ground level of these apartments. This creates the feeling of a large communal square, or “piazza”. In addition, in the middle of the courtyard is a swimming pool to gather around. This results in housing that makes it easy to be a part of the community. The garden is a place to be visible and to be sociable, as well as a link between the private residences and the street. It is also very easy to enjoy the scenery, to move freely between inside and outside. To join the community, one only has to push aside the glass section and step out.
Location Limhamn, Sweden
Architecture Lindvall A & D
Authors Jonas Lindvall
Collaborators Mikael Ling, Björn Förstberg
Structural Engineering Istvan Szlavi Engineers
Contrator Håkan Wilhelmsson Byggnads AB