In Scandinavian design, it’s the little things that count. When this Danish family wanted to design and build their own home, they wanted all the little things to add up to a balance of energy efficiency with light and atmosphere, cost with comfort, aesthetics with sustainability. All that would combine to create something that lasted, both functionally and aesthetically. The resulting “Future House” by Danish firm Novaform Arkitekterne gets the job done elegantly, harnessing a modest structure to diverse ends.
Built from 2014-2015 in a new residential development in Holbæk, Denmark, 65 kilometers from Copenhagen, Future House was designed to a high-degree of European energy standards, combining passive house designs with maintenance-free materials. The handsome slate Cupaclad cladding by Cupa Pizarras is both attractive and functional, as a naturally waterproof and durable material that will last for more than 100 years. Each slate tile is easy to install and unique, providing a subtle distinction to every structure it dresses. For this new four-person family home in the suburbs, it also adds a degree of timelessness, without making it look too “just out of the box”.
The slate cladding also plays a big role in the home’s energy efficiency. Cupaclad ventilated facade system has an extremely low heat transfer coefficient, and in combination with an insulation layer, means less heat loss overall from the structure. As a single-family suburban house, it sets a laudable standard for energy efficiency. The slate cladding is also very simple and easy to install, contributing to the speed of the project’s overall delivery and ultimately allowing the family to move in early.
Formally, the 120 square meter home appears as if it could not be more simple. A sloping roof tops the modernist space, with an exterior deck extending a corner of the home neatly onto a generous lawn. The dark slate facade nicely complements the verdant surroundings, while also adding a hint of texture to an otherwise smoothly geometric form. While all of the photographs featured here were taken during fair weather, the home’s generous front-facing glass entryway and windows will ensure the house can suck up plentiful light and views in the darker seasons and grayer days typical of the Danish landscape, when the light is low and the days short.
Taking into account those gray days, the dark slate cladding is coordinated nicely with a combination of black and blonde wood on the deck and accompanying shade overhang. A lighter stone patio sits adjacent to the deck in front of the home’s kitchen, leading over to a garden and accompanying shed. The rainscreen cladding system Cupaclad ties all these elements together, connecting the domestic space to the dark earth of the garden. As the slate is naturally natural texture and color a reminder of the other natural elements seamlessly coordinated within the home: the untreated facade, the simple wooden beams, and the nearby Danish countryside.
The handsome slate Cupaclad cladding by Cupa Pizarras is both attractive and functional, as a naturally waterproof and durable material that will last for more than 100 years.
While by no means a spectacular or iconic project, the Future House excellently conveys the treasured Danish concept of hygge. The term often arises in relation to interior and domestic spaces, and roughly translates to an idea of coziness. Most essentially, hygge is used to describe cozy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing. The combination of sustainable materials and energy-efficient design, in a family’s own simple and satisfying home, brings this concept to reality. Perhaps the best way to imagine hygge is through the photographs of Future House taken at night, when the home’s inner glow is most visible.
Future House’s energy-efficient design, while built just for a family of four, plays an important symbolic part of Denmark’s larger national agenda to become completely independent from fossil fuels by 2050. The slate facade of Future House puts this significance right upfront: extracted from quarries in Spain, the slate only needs to be shaped into tiles, requiring no additional treatment to be ready for use in construction. Without a CO2-heavy treatment process, the slate drives down the structure’s overall carbon footprint.
Achieving such an ambitious sustainability agenda requires not only a massive amount of political coordination, but also a shift in expectations – to the idea that day-to-day life can be lived to its fullest without fossil fuels. While no one house is going to make or break the 2050 agenda, and Future House isn’t there yet either, creating elegant, beautiful and sustainable designs for family living is an absolutely integral part of making the ambitious goal attainable (and enjoyable). It’s the little things, at the end of the day, that really matter.