Sälsten

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Very rarely do residential renovations at the same time offer something both entirely new and unabashedly familiar. Such is the case with Sälsten by Skälso Arkitekter, which in the same breath utters a transformative contradiction in materiality and geometry mixed with subtle architectural transparency that manages to make the existing structure feel simultaneously fresh and nostalgic.

Sälsten is a quant renovation of an old Swedish villa, occupying an isolated bit of beach front property near the city of Härnösand. The existing home wasn’t crumbling by any stretch, but was found pleading for a modern face-lift and expansion of interior space. This remodel manifests itself in a contemporary addition that from the exterior looks more like an invading rectilinear spore latching on to the nearest susceptible host.

However, this apparent intrusion is a trick – a hopeless falsity that attempts to hide the fact that modernity and antiquity actually do conspire to mingle in blissful aesthetic harmony. Such a notion is finally revealed when the front door is open, and the home looks as if it were never touched since it was first constructed decades ago. There is a seamlessness to the interior, further blurred by intersecting volumes of space and a uniform, colorless swath of natural light.

It’s after this appreciation for the melting of old and new that the bizarre stylistic juxtapositions on the exterior show their true colors as an homage to what’s possible when opposing generations cross straws. The yin and yang is complete, and all at once it is impossible to imagine the exiting homestead as it once was – void of the final piece of the puzzle it never knew was missing.
And so now it sits on the shores of a Swedish inlet, complete in form and function, and a contemporary beacon of residential architecture that supplies the world with an example of what happens when you succeed in teaching an old dog new tricks.

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