KRADS creates a lakeside holiday home that merges into the Icelandic countryside

Clad in blackened timber panels and surmounted by overgrown green roofs, the home provides a serene place of refuge near Lake Thingvallavatn that complements its natural context.

by STIRworldPublished on : Mar 31, 2021

Architectural studio KRADS has designed a holiday home for performing artists, Tina Dickow and Helgi Hrafn Jónsson, on a densely vegetated hill towards the north of Lake Thingvallavatn in southwestern Iceland. With panoramic views of the mountainous countryside and nearby water body, the house provides a serene haven that harmoniously complements the surrounding natural landscape.

The holiday home is strategically placed on an overgrown hill blessed with panoramic views | STIRworld
The holiday home is strategically placed on an overgrown hill blessed with panoramic views Image: Marino Thorlacius

Based in Denmark and Iceland, KRADS is headed by Kristján Eggertsson and Kristján Örn Kjartansson that seeks to 'mobilise and re-imagine' Nordic architecture, with a pragmatic approach to design based on diligent attention to a project's parameters. According to the design team, "An essential part of a good building is a good client”. While working with two of the country's most famous musicians - Tina Dickow and Helgi Hrafn Jónsson - the firm felt that "they showed an unusual understanding around the creative process, and all the aspects it involves" prompting them to remark that it "created an atmosphere of mutual trust and openness between the architect and the client that one rarely experiences”. 

  • A winding road runs along the hill to grant entry to the site from the east | KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    A winding road runs along the hill to grant entry to the site from the east Image: Marino Thorlacius
  • The concrete foundation is split over three staggered planes along the terrain to minimise the site impact | KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    The concrete foundation is split over three staggered planes along the terrain to minimise the site impact Image: Marino Thorlacius

A desire to integrate the structure into its context while minimising its impact on the landscape was inherent to the site selection and design process. In this vein, the holiday home's concrete foundation is spread out over three staggered planes to follow the flow of the terrain and forge a 'dialogue' with it. The house's form consists of a cuboid stacked asymmetrically above another trapezoidal volume, that looms over a winding road along the hill's surface, serving as the main point of access from the east. Clad in blackened timber panels, the facades feature angled rooflines whose slopes both align with and oppose the hill's descent, surmounted by green roofs overgrown with local grass and moss that blend with the enclosing thicket of trees and bush.

The facade is clad in blackened timber panels and features sloped roofs| KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
The facade is clad in blackened timber panels and features sloped roofs Image: Marino Thorlacius

Additionally, the team at KRADS also endeavoured to frame views of the surrounding landscape through the planning and orientation of spaces over multiple levels. From the entrance, an open kitchen reveals itself and leads towards a dining space that flows into a southwest-facing terrace enclosed by trees, overlooking the mountains of Jórutindur and Hátindur in the site's vicinity.

  • An open kitchen with an adjoining dining space is revealed from the entrance| KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    An open kitchen with an adjoining dining space is revealed from the entrance Image: Marino Thorlacius
  • The dining area flows into a southwestern terrace with mountain views| KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    The dining area flows into a southwestern terrace with mountain views Image: Marino Thorlacius

Towards the other end, expansive glass windows in the main living area offer unhindered views of Lake Thingvallavatn (locally known as Þingvallavatn) as well as Skjaldbreið mountain due to stretches of low-lying scrub beneath the corresponding northern facade. Featuring a rectangular tub to its east that can be covered and turned into a daybed, the sunken living area emphasises the height of its sloped ceiling covered by timber slats.

  • The living area features expansive glass windows overlooking the lake| KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    The living area features expansive glass windows overlooking the lake Image: Marino Thorlacius
  • Interiors embody a Nordic modern aesthetic with light, natural materials| KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    Interiors embody a Nordic modern aesthetic with light, natural materials Image: Marino Thorlacius

These spaces form a progression of vistas along one of the home's axes, comprising views of the lake, mountains and internal spaces. Embodying the aesthetics of Nordic Modernism, the interior design employs natural materials, light wood flooring, white walls, and functional, elegant furniture.

  • A wooden staircase veiled by louvres leads to the upper level | KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    A wooden staircase veiled by louvres leads to the upper level Image: Marino Thorlacius
  • The first floor features a multipurpose loft space| KRADS | Iceland | STIRworld
    The first floor features a multipurpose loft space Image: Marino Thorlacius
  • Panoramic views create an awe-inspiring scene at the roof’s peak | KRADS in Iceland | STIRworld
    Panoramic views create an awe-inspiring scene at the roof’s peak Image: Marino Thorlacius

A staircase adjacent to the kitchen, veiled by light wooden louvres, leads to the upper level that contains the house's 'sleep and play' loft space. An internal point of access to the landscaped roof area is located here, with another external entry available from the sloping roof of an interconnected boat shed. At its highest point of ascension, the roof opens up to panoramic views of the neighbouring lake and mountains, creating a dynamic, awe-inspiring scene.

  • Ground Floor Plan | KRADS in Iceland | STIRworld
    Ground Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of KRADS
  • Loft Plan | KRADS in Iceland | STIRworld
    Loft Plan Image: Courtesy of KRADS
  • Section through Kitchen and Dining Area | KRADS in Iceland | STIRworld
    Section through Kitchen and Dining Area Image: Courtesy of KRADS
  • Section through Main Living Area| KRADS in Iceland | STIRworld
    Section through Main Living Area Image: Courtesy of KRADS

Project Details

Project: Holiday home by Þingvallavatn
Location: Iceland
Architect: KRADS
Size: Main house: 145 m2, Boat shed: 26m2, plot: 1000 m2
Status: Completed 2020
Client: Tina Dickow and Helgi Hrafn Jónsson
Engineer: Emil Þór Guðmundsson
Interior carpentry And Exterior Detailing: Helgi Hrafn Jónsson, Jón Árni Þórisson, Christian Danielsen

(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)

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