This Swedish Property Combines Minimalism with Characterful Materiality

With a strong focus on detailing and materiality, architecture and design firm Förstberg Ling might have found their signature project in House for Mother, #F003. This, the first private residential project for the Sweden-based firm, is designed for architect Björn Förstberg’s librarian and weaving-enthusiast mother, Maria.

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Whitewashing the interior at one end cleverly splits the living room from the dining area.

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A recess kitchen provides cosy, spatially economic, and aesthetically attractive facilities.

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Much of the interior furniture is sourced from hem.

The house consists of two volumes, joined at on one end of the long sides to create an asymmetric floor plan that emphasizes the narrowness of the 350 sqm plot; the volumes are set on a concrete bench in the Southern city of Linköping, Sweden.

The volumes are clad in corrugated aluminium, which invites an interesting play of light and shade across the house’s surface as the day passes; a mini-me greenhouse has been added alongside, in translucent corrugated plastic, for a practical and witty visual touch. This attention to the subtle characteristics of materials is continued throughout the interior, with wooden beams and trusses along the walls picking up on the pine plywood patterning of the interior walls.  lining of the much of the house. This wooden theme brings an organic warmth to the concrete flooring and spacious rooms, which include a ground floor bedroom, studio, living room/kitchen, two guest rooms, and a gallery space.

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An upstairs guest bedroom.

Natural wooden materials largely dominate in the volume that houses the kitchen, dining room, and living area, save for the living room, which is washed in a tranquil white. The stark visual contrast smartly portions out the modestly-sized house, whilst retaining a restrained and complementary colour scheme. The minimalistic simplicity of the entire space allows natural accents of plant life to thrive. The studio provides space for Maria’s loom, and the ample sheving accommodates her many books.

Built over the course of four years, this fascinating labour of family love retains the same clean and quiet functionality that is seen throughout Förstberg Ling’s projects.

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House For Mother consists of three interconnecting volumes.

THE PLUS: Any special difficulties you came across in construction?
Björn Förstberg:
The most difficult part was to convey the idea of visible construction details to the builders. They couldn’t do as they were used to, and needed to be more careful, as every nail and screw would be visible. 

TP: Why have you chosen to raise the house on the concrete shelf? 
BF:
The concrete shelf was one of the ideas I had from the very beginning. I wanted to raise up the intersection of wall and ground, and make that transition more visible.  Also because I liked the idea of a bench/shelf that runs along the entire perimeter of the house. 

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This is the first house completed by Förstberg Ling.

TP: It seems like a secluded location – what is the surrounding area like? Additionally, you mention its ‘future urban context’ in the brief – will it be relocated? And if so, do you know to where? And, why? 
BF:
The house was the first to be built in a new development. So, when constructed, and at the time we photographed it, it was one of only a few houses that were built in the area. Now the rest of the neighborhood has caught up, and it’s quite urban with a mix of detached houses, row houses and apartment buildings.

TP: There’s a very distinct transition from the bare wood to the whitewashed sections of one volume. Take us through this decision… 
BF:
The kitchen, the dining area and the living room share the open space in the lower volume and I wanted to create a visual separation so that the living room would have its own identity within that shared volume. The white areas also accentuate the wooden ones.

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A large glass door opens from the dining area into the outside.

TP: This is the studio’s first house: what kind of signature or design standards did you want to set for yourselves moving forward? 
BF:
Hopefully we can continue to work with projects that are spatially intriguing while providing a rich sensory experience.

TP: Could you take us through the housing exhibition that it featured in in 2017? The project began back in 2013, what did the production timetable look like? 
BF:
The housing exhibition is called Vallastaden and will take place over four weeks this september. The house will be partly open to the public during the first week. While the project began in 2013, we couldn’t start to build until 2015. Once started, it moved along roughly according to schedule. 

TP: What does your mother think?
BF:
She’s been very happy with how the house turned out. But as it is standing in the middle of a large construction site, she’s looking forward to September, when all construction must be completed. 

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Pine plywood is used on the interiors for its attractive pattern and affordability.

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Bjorn’s mother is a librarian, and ample shelving in the house provides space for her books.

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One of the house’s bathrooms.

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Gallery area upstairs, overlooking the living and dining space.

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Attractive tiling continues the brown and monochrome aesthetic of the house.

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A stepped exterior elevates the house.

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Spacious windows let natural light into the main volume.

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The house is a perfect backdrop for minimalist accessories.

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The raw corrugated aluminium facade interacts playfully with passing sunlight.

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The house balances spatiality with intimate rooms.

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The expressive simplicity of the interior allows for the addition of personal design touches.

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Interior of the adjoining greenhouse.

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A simple study space.

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The house is 135 sqm, over two floors.

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Bjorn Förstberg and Mikael Ling, of Förstberg Ling.

Photos by Markus Linderoth.

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