Villa Busk

Villa Busk in Bamble, Norway by Sverre Fehn, 1990

Sverre Fehn's career has spanned five decades, but it was not until he received the 1997 Pritzker Prize that he gained international renown. This private residence, built in his native country like much of his work, is typical of his buildings in their relation to site, strong materiality, and blend of modernity and regionalism. Much like Finland's Alvar Aalto, Fehn's buildings have a timelessness that arises from these qualities.

Villa Busk straddles a ridge, adjacent to a valley that runs to the nearby Oslo Fjord to the south and west. The plan is arranged along a linear spine, oriented east to west, rising to the latter end of the house, following the natural terrain (a tower and storage shed break from this linearity). This gesture describes that main theme of the house and Fehn's work in general: the strength of nature and man's subordination to nature. In the movement up the stairs to the living room, family members are kept aware of the ground upon which the house is built, as well as any ideological implications. The north facade (top) contrasts heavily with the solid concrete walls of the south facade, both in scale and material treatment. The entry facade maintains an inviting appearance, while the opposite rises from the rocky earth, echoing the rough nature of the land toward the fjord.
When the house was completed and the dramatic confrontation between nature and architecture had ceased..., I had the feeling of having dreamt of a trip yet to be taken.   -Sverre Fehn
These two facades give an indication of Fehn's mastery of materials and detailing, typically limited to the palette of native materials: wood, grey stone, concrete, and copper. The villa also uses polished marble on smooth surface, such as the main stair and the kitchen counters, but also as chips in an inlaid strip. Inside the surfaces are slate for the main corridor, wood for other floors, concrete for walls, and tile in the bathroom. The rough quality of the concrete walls gives the house an illusion of rising from the earth, while the warm wood textures the house, giving the spaces their domestic scale and intimate nature.

Although using traditional materials and techniques from his native country, the spatial relationships and solid/void characteristics of the house are very modern. The rooms of the main volume of the house are scaled to their purpose but maintain a level of openness to the other spaces. Each room "borrows" visual space from adjacent rooms and the long corridor, separated by floor materials and a line of columns. This corridor also expresses Fehn's use of transparency, as floor-to-ceiling glass creates its facade, though the functional areas of the house have smaller windows relating to their uses (a gesture reminiscent of Mackintosh's Hill House).


  1. like those buildings by sverre fehn - fascinating architecture

  2. Can you tell climatology of villa busk.. I need it for case study.. architecture student

    1. Climatology? What do you mean? The climate where it's located? Or it's internal climate, such as how it's heated and cooled?

    2. The climate where it's located

    3. And ideology behind the structure?
      Too many questions because this place is wonderful

    4. Bramble, Norway, should be enough for you to figure out climate. In terms of height, thi website has scale drawings where you should be able to determine that.

    5. Not sure about ideology behind the structure (rooting it in the ground while simultaneously reaching upward with the tower?), but the main structure is the long concrete wall, and secondary to that are the laminated wood columns that extend from the wall.


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