The special villa in Kungsbacka, Sweden, was in many ways Ålund’s premiere project. It was his first assignment after starting out on his own – and a project where he had great freedom to do what he wanted. The plot was challenging, but the architect couldn’t have done better.
– Here there was a lot of rock, a lot of trees and large differences in height. That’s why there was no alternative to designing a house that was truly custom-made for the plot, Ålund says.
They decided to place the house in one corner of the plot. This location, at the highest point, gave them both a view and a distinctive angle on the home.
– The design again created fine spaces and lines of sight. For me, it was about exploiting the height differences on the plot and letting it reflect on the inside of the house.
A lot of thought was put into Ålund’s use of materials. A natural site requires natural and environmentally friendly materials.
– I try to work with materials that are naturally found locally. I don’t like the idea of buying exotic marble from Brazil or African granite and shipping it across half the world. Especially when there is so much beautiful Norwegian and Swedish stone, he says.
The architect himself has always loved slate, and he has fond memories of scrambling over the stepping stones in the garden outside his childhood home. Perhaps that’s where it began. Because the feeling of slate against the skin was important when he designed the bathroom in Villa Lesslie.
– There’s something about the tactile feeling of a natural material against the hands and feet. Especially the feeling of stepping on a coarser stone material, which is completely unique.
And of course, it looks amazing. Ålund’s recommendation is to choose a lighter slate if you want to use it in the bathroom.
– It’s of course an incredibly beautiful stone, with subtle yet clear life in the small changes of colour. Personally, I love when natural stone softens. Especially with light slate, you get this effect where you can see the footprints on the floor and the play in the water on the walls. This provides a completely different experience to tiles.
Another tip from the architect is not to allow inflation in the slate. More is not necessarily better. In Villa Lesslie, he solved it by creating a kind of hierarchy of material exclusivity.
– Contrasts are always good, so in one bathroom we have combined slate and ordinary tiles. The idea is that what’s closest to the body, in the shower and on the floor, is reserved for the most exclusive material. Slate is also more beautiful.
He uses the comparison of laying a rough pine floor but having door handles and other details in a finer wood type.
– It’s just about making conscious choices. A material like slate deserves that you don’t get tired of it.
And what do the homeowners think? Like architect Ålund, Sara Lesslie loves that the natural stone reflects the granite at the bottom of the water’s edge. That they can see wet footsteps on the bathroom floor – just like on the rocks after a dip in the sea.
– Oppdal slate also has these beautiful, natural colour changes, where you can see millions of years of transformation in every stone, says Lesslie.
She also adds that the natural colours in the slate create completely different plays of light, depending on which light falls on them.
– In certain light, our shower is like entering a dark cave. In others, it sparkles like diamonds.
– I try to work with materials that are naturally found locally. I don’t like the idea of buying exotic marble from Brazil or African granite and shipping it across half the world. Especially when there is so much beautiful Norwegian and Swedish stone
Architect SAR/MSA, studio Ålund