Swedish practice Johan Sundberg Arkitektur has completed a set of wood-clad apartment blocks in Ystad, Sweden, with facades of retractable glass screens that allow their balconies to be transformed into sheltered winter gardens.
Called Hygrometern, the four-block cluster is a mix of 20 medium-sized two- and three-bedroom apartments on a sloping site overlooking the Baltic Sea.
The project marks a change of scale for Lund-based company Johan Sundberg Arkitektur, which is known for designing luxury villas and holiday homes, often in close collaboration with the owners.
“We are proud and delighted about the recognition we get for our luxury villas. But because we believe that quality spaces can change people’s lives for the better, we are extending our practice to multi-family housing projects,” said founder Johan Sundberg.
“[Our] We afford mid-budget multi-family housing resulting in accessible yet exceptional residences that prove outstanding architecture can be achieved with modest means.”
Hygrometern is organized into two square blocks in the east of the site and two long straight-line blocks in its centre, with the space between them used to create outdoor and shared spaces overlooked by the apartments.
Rising two storeys on a stepped concrete base, each building features a dedicated entrance to each apartment, with walled gardens for those on the ground floor and deep sunken porches for the first floor residences.
Whilst the entrance to the ground floor apartments is through their front gardens, access to the first floor spaces is via galvanized steel stairs at the rear, which leads to a small roof access area with additional seating.
“The program is spread across four distinct volumes, with the gaps forming human-sized exterior spaces,” said the practice.
“A variety of sightlines, outdoor spaces, and views all contribute to the spatial characteristics within the apartments,” she continued.
Simple floor plans organize the living, dining and kitchen area at the front of the apartments and open onto the front garden or balcony and the bedrooms at the rear, reducing the need for hallways.
One elevation per block consisted of a folding glass screen in front of verandahs or gardens, with the remaining elevations clad in thin, ribbed timber panels.
“The folding glass partitions, so crucial to the appearance of the facades, came about as one of the many improvements typical of projects where the architect plays an active role during the construction phase,” said the practice.
She continued, “Considered initially as an optional element to be installed at the buyer’s discretion, the partitions were unanimously accepted, allowing cozy balconies to become sheltered winter gardens.”
In Hyrgometern’s simple interiors, residents were free to customize the fixtures in the kitchens and bathrooms according to a pre-selected color palette of light and pastel hues.
Other recently completed projects by Johan Sundberg Arkitektur include a simple wooden barn on a historic farmhouse in Skåne and a wood-clad villa near a Swedish pine forest surrounded by terraces to catch the sun.
Photography by Markus Linderoth.