One of our favourite design firms has done it again with a jaw-dropping interior design. Norm Architects, of Copenhagen, is a multi-disciplinary design studio with a talent for producing some of the best contemporary work in Minimalism. Norm Architects is rooted in Scandinavian design, which they describe as timeless aesthetics, natural materials and upholding Modernist principles of restraint and refinement. Norm strive to create balance in all their works, and reach the point where there’s nothing more to either add or take away.
Village School House, located north of Copenhagen, follows Norm’s guiding principle of finding balance in design. The most apparent is between old and new. This harmony is not new to a country like Denmark, where historic and modern architecture often habituate the same street or neighbourhood. In Village School House, old and new are brought together in one dwelling. Village School House is actually two old school buildings dating back to 1721. The renovation of the building into a dwelling included a full modernisation of the interior and a careful restoration of the exterior. The result is a stunning contemporary home that honours the traditional architecture of its past.
Formerly, the school house was two separate timber-framed buildings with thatched roofs. The exteriors maintain their historic facades, with the exception of a glass walkway, added during the renovation to connect the two buildings. In the walkway, dark framed windows reference the heavily mullioned black windows on the original facade. This part of the home also gives a hint of the modern design that follows on the interior. The nod to the interior is important for continuity: one is not shocked by the contrast upon entering the home.
The interior, like all of Norm’s designs, retains classic principles from its Scandinavian roots, but is otherwise unrecognisable from the old school house. The floors have been converted to modern polished concrete and the walls painted a clean white. The hardness of the floors is balanced with warm wood accents, a reference to the traditional timber construction of the building. This materiality is best expressed in the staircase: a show stopping assembly of wood treads and risers set atop a floating white base. We love a grand staircase, and Village School House’s staircase is a gorgeous creation that fits neatly in the middle of architecture and art.
At the top of the stairs, an arched window, articulated on the exterior as part of the old facade, takes on new life as a minimal portal. The quality of the light as it pours in from this opening is reminiscent of a James Turrell exhibit, again demonstrating Norm's talent for blurring the lines between the design and art worlds.
Upholding Minimalist principles, the home is furnished with a highly curated selection of objects. Each piece was carefully selected for both its functionality and aesthetic. The result is an interior where furniture and architecture meld seamlessly together, so that the building's design would be incomplete without its furnishings, like an art gallery without art.
Village School House illustrates all our favourite aspects of Norm Architects’ work: Scandinavian design, curated furnishings, great materials, and a top-notch minimalist aesthetic.