4 Scandinavian Architects Who Also Design Homes in the US
Welcome to Scandi Week—Apartment Therapy’s seven-day focus on all-things Scandinavia (often defined as the countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway). Sometimes it seems like the whole world is obsessed with trying to copy this corner of the globe, from its timeless style aesthetic to its now-famous coziness rituals. For the next week, we’ll take a look at all of it—cleaning, pop culture, and of course tons of eye-popping design inspiration. Pull up a blanket and get hygge with us.
Architecture and design in Scandinavia is known for being simple, modern, and minimal. Because of the harsh climate int those countries, with long hours of daylight in the summer and little daylight in the winter, Scandinavian architects often make it good practice to use natural light and materials to make a home as comfortable as possible in all seasons. Instead of elaborate ornamentation, houses are marked by their functionality and clean design.
When these architects work in the United States, they often play with the histories and concepts of Scandinavian architecture and apply it to the new geographical context. From California to the East Coast, they have dappled America’s landscape with distinctly Scandi-style homes. Here are four Scandinavian architects with American ties whose names you should know:
If there’s one Scandinavian architect you’ve probably heard of, it’s Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect who heads the firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). His firm has been a part of putting together the Copenhagen Harbour Baths, Superkilen (a colorful public park in Copenhagen), as well as museums, libraries, and art galleries around the world. Ingels has also left his mark in New York with VIA 57 West, an 830,000+ square-foot high-rise at the corner of West 57th St and the West Side Highway. The residential building combines the density of an American skyscraper with the communal space of a European courtyard. The 32-story building opened in 2016 and offers 709 residential units (seven of which are currently listed on StreetEasy).
Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Schmidt Hammer Lassen was founded in Aarhus, Denmark, in 1986 by architects Morten Schmidt, Bjarne Hammer, and John F. Lassen. The Danish architects are behind Downtown Detroit’s first high-rise in over a generation. Called the Monroe Blocks, the development combines office space, outdoor space, and 480 residential units, and takes advantage of large floor plans, tall ceilings, and wide windows to increase access to sunlight. According to the Monroe Blocks website, construction is set to begin later this year.
If you are looking for a single-family home, Norwegian-born Casper Mork-Ulnes is your architect. The architect describes his approach as a combination of “Scandinavian practicality and California’s ‘can-do’ spirit of innovation.” His eponymous firm’s projects include Romain St. in San Francisco; a Sonoma, California, guesthouse; a Norwegian barn-inspired home called Troll Hus, in Norden, California; an attic expansion on a San Francisco Victorian on 15th St; a luxurious residential complex called Meier Rd in Sebastopol, California; and pre-fabricated mini houses called “Cabanas” that have been distributed across the United States.
Dunsmuir Institute is a distinctly Scandinavian-American firm since it was founded by, well, a Scandinavian and an American. Ann-Sofi Holst, a Swedish architect, met Scott Wolf, a historian of American architecture, and together the two of them set up a firm in Los Angeles. The studio’s portfolio includes Seneca House, which is a renovation of a 1920s cottage in Palo Alto, California, as well as a contemporary residence in Los Angeles called Mandeville House.