Villa Snow White

A delightful example of how a distinctly modern house can be designed with a traditional sense of character and scale using composition, materials and detail… This is modern architecture at its best – an homage to, and transformation of, the Finnish tradition of Aalto. The round structural columns read like a forest of shadows against the white background of walls. Typologically, the house cleverly transforms what is normally a symbolic front façade and lawn on standard suburban site, into a welcoming and usable courtyard space…

John M. Cava: Precedents and Prototypes. Experiencing Today’s Nordic Housing. In the book edited by Marianne Ibler: A New Golden Age – Nordic Housing. Archipress M 2016.

Built on a rocky hillock, Villa Snow White is oriented to the south, towards the archipelago off Espoo. The old trees on the site determined the looking directions from indoor spaces. The surrounding buildings are mainly low-rise, varied in style and age. The nearest neighbours are houses with pitched, hipped or flat roofs and masoned or rendered facades; among them are also two low blocks of flats. The old house that occupied the site had reached the end of its life cycle and was demolished.

The villa serves both as the home of the client’s family and as the showroom of the Woodnotes company. The client wished the simple, authentic materiality of textiles by Ritva Puotila and the whole product world of Woodnotes to be present also in the architecture of the building. The frame is of in-situ cast concrete, the columns of steel, the exterior cladding of brick rendered snow white. The interior surfaces are white, the floors mostly massive oak and limestone.

Entrance is through an outdoor atrium, which opens to the evening sun. Besides the main entrance, the atrium can be accessed from the kitchen and, along a bridge and stairs, from the sauna. Changing in the course of the day and the seasons, daylight connects the open white spatial composition with the surrounding landscape and the sea horizon in sight further away.