What do we actually need in a home? Do we need the amount of rooms a standard layout might offer? And what impact does building smaller have on our lifestyle and sustainability? On the rugged island of Gotland, architect Martina Eriksson investigates these questions in a thoughtful and functional manner. Built for a family of four, this Swedish Island Villa demonstrates the benefit of thinking smaller without sacrificing function.

DESIGN m.arkitektur | PHOTOGRAPHY Emma Jönsson Dysell

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On Gotland’s West Coast, this family home is far from a cookie-cutter design. Drawing on her own background as a building engineer, Martina Eriksson worked from a concept of creating room in an untraditional way. Beginning by asking the question of what was actually needed in the space – cooking, washing, space to be communal and space to be private – Martina’s design for the Swedish Island Villa is clever and considered. “In Villa Boo we say an activity doesn’t need a room, but a space” says Martina, an attitude that is tactfully demonstrated throughout the home through the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, and the blurred lines between open communal areas and more closed private areas such as the bedrooms.

By prioritising purpose over conventional layout, every area of the home works a little bit harder for the family, as spaces are maximised in function. Instead of a sprawling island bench kitchen, the kitchen tapers subtly along one wall, making room to prioritise a larger dining and lounge area, while curtains provide a softer way to hide away or open up the bedroom areas from the central hallway. A smaller home also makes for a more sustainable home too, and with high local production costs it no doubt removed some of financial strain for the family when bringing the home to life.

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Of course, designing a Swedish Island Villa is far from its southern European neighbours, and just as she did in previous project Villa AK, Martina has developed the indoor-to-outdoor spaces to accommodate the distinct Scandinavian seasons. The spaces described as “in-between” by Martina, such as the undercover entertaining area and pool deck or sheltered timber balcony, enhance the home and make the warm season longer, without needing to be heated. From its size to its scale to its sustainability, this villa makes a strong case for questioning what we think we need in any home.

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“We think good material ages beautifully and furniture that is specifically designed for the house has a longer lifetime. It’s initially a bit more expensive, but in the long run more economic and more sustainable.”

– Martin Eriksson of m.arkitektur

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