Atrium House

Today’s featured home is the Concrete Atrium House by Tham & Videgard, which is a minimalist modern take on the timeless classic. Before we tour the house, we will give a little background about atrium homes for those who may not be familiar with them.

What is an Atrium House?

Atrium House
© Åke E: son Lindman

An atrium house is simply a home with a central atrium. When you hear the word “atrium,” you probably picture a spacious lobby in a corporate or public building, right? Well, that is one example of an atrium, but the category is actually quite a bit broader than that, and traditionally includes residential examples as well.

Simply put, an atrium is any central space in a building that is open to the air or enclosed by a skylight. An open air atrium is the same thing as a courtyard.

Skylights are more common today in what we refer to as “atriums,” while an open air design is more traditional. In ancient Rome, for example, open air atrium houses were quite popular. Such a house was referred to as a domus.

Atrium Home Features

The features of an atrium home can vary significantly. Some atrium homes have enclosed central spaces with skylights, while others have courtyards that are open to the sky. The layout of rooms around the atrium can resemble an ancient domus, or be completely different.

Regardless, the atrium brings natural light into a home, and if desired, fresh air.

The Atrium House by Tham & Videgard

Now let’s explore a modern atrium dwelling in the form of the Concrete Atrium House by Tham & Videgard. The client commissioned it to serve as a vacation home on Gotland, an island located in the Baltic Sea.

The architect writes, “The house is inspired by the strong materiality of Gotland’s vernacular agricultural architecture. Another source of inspiration is the remains of a unique square medieval wooden fortress, known as Bulverket, found in the middle of the island’s second-largest lake, Tingstäde Marsh. Like Bulverket, this Atrium House can be described as an austere architectural structure in which the elements required for everyday functions have been reduced to a minimum.”


© Åke E: son Lindman

The layout of the home is a simple square, much like the fortress Tham &Videgard discussed. In the center is a large atrium, and surrounding it are all the rooms of the home. Large windows look out on both the atrium and the meadow in which the structure is situated.

The family that occupies the home features three generations. By positioning the bedrooms at opposite corners, privacy is assured for everyone. Adjacent to both are the kitchen and living room. The atrium itself, of course, serves as an additional common space.

One thing that helps to distinguish the interior spaces are the different ceiling heights. In actuality, the roof is level, and it is the floor that is higher in some rooms and lower in others. But the effect is the same.

The architect writes, “The house is narrow, but its openings outward are broad, which gives the interior the character of a sheltering niche in the open space of the landscape.”

Materials and Style

Seen from the outside, the home has a relatively low profile over the landscape. Unadorned concrete walls have a clean, seamless look, interrupted only by the windows, which reflect the meadow.

The home’s interior is like a continuation of its exterior. Clean lines, natural colors, and rectangular forms dominate. The exposed beams in the ceiling offer a subtle decorative touch without adding any visual noise. Even the furnishings are simple enough to blend right in, almost as if they are a natural outgrowth of the architecture.

Tham & Videgard says, “The masonry construction has natural plaster colored with carbon black, exterior metal parts are of oxidized zink. The oak doors and windows has been treated with tar oil, a preservative treatment that allows the wood to become gray over time in harmony with the other facade materials. The large sliding glass windows are mounted on the surface of the exterior walls, according to the same principle as many barn doors. Also the interior doors are surface-mounted, allowing the walls to appear unbroken.”

Despite the austerity of the design, the rooms in the Concrete Atrium House by Tham & Videgard never feel cold. Perhaps it is the narrow profile of the interior, the warmth of the wood beams overhead, or maybe even just the beauty of the outdoors through the large windows. Regardless, the overall ambiance is one of cozy sanctuary.

We hope you enjoyed discovering this concrete home. Tham & Videgard have done a wonderful job reviving the classic layout of the atrium house while imbuing it with a modern flavor. Continue exploring our site to view other examples of modern concrete houses.

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