The incredible shrinking house: 24H-architecture’s Dragspelhuset expands and contracts on demand
Photo: © Christian Richters
Locals around the Swedish nature reserve of Glaskogen affectionately dubbed this quirky little expandable house in its midst the “Dragspelhuset,” or accordion house. But the owners, Boris Zeisser and Maartje Lammers of the Dutch firm 24H-architecture in Rotterdam, liken the building in its winter incarnation, when its movable extension is stowed inside the main body of the structure, to a tightly sealed cocoon with a double skin that protects against the cold. Come spring—when the extension is deployed—it becomes a butterfly with wings unfurled to provide extra shelter on rainy days.
The couple, hoping to give their young daughter an experience like Zeisser’s childhood summers spent in Sweden, embarked on a quest for a vacation retreat from Holland’s relative congestion. Their search ended with an odd property that no one wanted—a 19th-century fishing shack isolated in a pine and birch wood on the banks of Lake Ovre Gla. Though the shack was “barely one room,” says Zeisser, its lakeside location made it very appealing. Because Swedish regulations prohibit new waterfront construction, the hut presented a rare opportunity. Despite restrictions that would limit the size of an addition to about 300 square feet, the architects purchased the unusual property.
That the house sat alongside a stream added to the site’s allure. “I’m an enormous Frank Lloyd Wright fan,” says Zeisser. “I’ve been to Fallingwater five or six times, and that’s what I wanted—to have my house over the stream.” But the property line lay smack in the middle of the creek, and yet another regulation dictated that development stay 15 feet clear of the property line. Still, the architects were not deterred.
To skirt both the maximum-square-foot and the property-line rules with one gesture, the architects came up with the idea of a movable extension that sits on wheels that roll along two steel rails as it is pulled out manually with a pulley system.
An amorphous pod clad in western red cedar shakes, Dragspelhuset, when viewed from the lake, appears to be a big rock. Devoid of luxury, the house, which the architects built themselves with help from friends over the course of four summers, has no electricity, heat, phone, or running water. At about 775 square feet (with the extension deployed), it consists of an open living/dining/kitchen area, with one bedroom and child’s sleeping loft occupying the old shack, which is connected to the new structure.
Want the full story? Read the entire article in our January 2007 issue.
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Boris Zeisser & Maartje Lammers
van nelleweg 1206
nl-3044 BC ROTTERDAM
Boris Zeisser & Maartje Lammers
Jeroen ter Haar
Structural engineer: ABT, Delft, the Netherlands
Rolf van Gils
Rowan van Wely
Christian Richters +49 172 5301920
James Silverman +46(0)730 614 908
Michele Biancucci +39 3934749620
Western red cedar shingles by Theo Ott GmbH, Germany
Glass over stream by Metaglas, the Netherlands
La Chaise by Vitra, designed by Charles & Ray Eames
Tom Rock by Vitra, designed by Ron Arad
Interior ambient lighting:
Igno Maurer’s Birdie & Kokoro
Provided by Finn Sloth Aps, Kopenhagen
‘Flower leaves’ on ceiling above kitchen by
Eelco Batstra from ILLI in Lekkerkerk, Holland