Juniper House, Gotland, Sweden

Hidden within a grove of high junipers in Gotland, a small island off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, is Juniper House. This family holiday home is perfectly camoflagued, wrapped in a tailor-made vinyl cloth façade printed with a photo of the existing junipers.

A glade was located where a house could be placed without taking down too many junipers and the existing junipers were measured before the house was designed.

The architects, husband and wife team Hans Murman and Ulla Alberts of Murman Arkitektur, wanted a family holiday home of their own close to other family members’ holiday homes in the area – so a degree of both close-contact and privacy was required.

”The façade is a playful comment to the Gotland authority’s ambition to not let modern architecture be visual in the landscape. It is also an experiment and investigation in what you see and do not see of a house and how this affects you and how you experience colour, texture, surface, material, transparency, inside contra outside light on and through the façades.”, said the architects.

With junipers growing just a foot from the facade and light flowing through thanks to a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, there is a strong feeling of being in nature. A terrace of white local limestone separates the kitchen from the master bedroom where large glass partitions and a low placed window let you see wild rabbits in the morning.

The wide sliding doors between the terrace and the enclosed yard make it possible to have good contact with the nature during all types of weather. The sliding glass partitions work as a temperature regulator while minimising draught problems.

An afternoon sun terrace acts as a bridge towards the rest of the family and is also a half-private zone. Towards the east, facing the morning sun, is the private breakfast zone.

The slow growing junipers that enclose the house are green throughout the whole year. A photo of the existing junipers was used as the base for the tailor-made cloth that is 35 metres wide and 3 meters high and wrapped onto tree sides of the house. The vinyl cloth is put on a galvanized steel construction at a distance of 40 centimetres from the façade.

On the north and south side of the house the cloth is extended a few extra meters for privacy and to hide the outdoor shower from the neighbours. The wooden facade is treated with a combination of turpentine, tar and linseed oil.

The sliding glass parts are clad with aluminium from Velfac and full aluminium from Scücho.

The floor is ash, oiled with white pigment. The walls and the ceiling are painted white and for the kitchen the architects have used a concrete board from a local factory in Boge, Gotland. The other parts of the kitchen are from IKEA. The wood burning stove is a model from the early 20th century, and is only 30 centimetres wide and is the only heat source in the kitchen.

The sofa is the architects’ own design and the central table is made of massive ash assembled on a drawing board stand. The chairs are the classic Y-chair designed by Hans Wegner in 1950.

The walls are isolated with 120 mm mineral wool. The ground is a concrete plate. The roof is flat clad with tar paper.