A contemporary mountain retreat in the Austrian Alps

A sloping plot and grand view of the Austrian Alps inspired the architect Sigurd Larsen to design a modern mountain home combining the best qualities of wood and glass. The Mountain House was both a challenging and rewarding project for Larsen's studio.

Hay Palissade chair
The Mountain House has straight access to a green alpine meadow. Hay's Palissade patio furniture is also clad in green.

THE MOUNTAIN HOUSE, located 800 meters above sea lever in Austria's Oberschlierbach, is quite an extraordinary home, both in terms of its surroundings and architecture. Completed in 2019, the house was built from prefabricated wood elements and large floor-to-ceiling windows that were transported up to the mountains.

The house covers 180 square meters and is surrounded by an idyllic mountain view on one side, and a thick forest on the other side. Architect Sigurd Larsen shared with us his thoughts about the design process and end result.

The Mountain House
The Mountain House, designed by Sigurd Larsen, is surrounded by two strong elements of nature: woods and mountains.
The Mountain House
Coated with dark, prefabricated wood elements, the upper level seems to be floating on the glass-walled lower lever.
Hay Palissade
The upper level of the house covers the terrace like a roof.
The Mountain House
The sloping plot added both challenges and creative opportunities to the design process.
The Mountain House
The cooking and living areas are located on the lower level that has an outdoor access to all directions.

Sigurd Larsen, what were your main sources of inspiration for The Mountain House?
“The sloping plot and the fantastic views were the main inspiration. We wanted to create a house where the living room and kitchen feel like a part of the surrounding green meadow, and the sleeping rooms are cosy little cabins floating above. From the common spaces, you can open glass doors in all directions and run out over the grass fields with open arms while singing.”

“The sloping plot and the fantastic views were the main inspiration for The Mountain House.”

What kind of requests did the customer have?
“The brief was open to a lot of creative freedom. They had some specific wishes for rooms they needed, otherwise they wanted to see some good ideas from us. So we presented them with three different schemes, and this one was chosen. We only swapped around some of the rooms upstairs and changed some dimensions.”

Hay Soft Edge chair
The kitchen area is furnished with the Soft Edge chairs and Loop Stand table by Hay and the Ambit pendant lights by Muuto.
Design House Stockholm Knot cushion
A wooden bench in the kitchen is an essential element in an Austrian home. Design House Stockholm’s Knot cushion gives the bench a touch of Scandinavian design.
The Mountain House
The Mountain House's interiors are characterized by natural wood. The light color of the wood makes the space more airy.
The Mountain House
A long corridor upstairs separates the bedrooms from the common areas.
The Mountain House
To contrast the open glass walls on the lower level, the bedrooms have a more sheltered design.

What were the biggest challenges of the project?
“The site is situated 800 meters above sea level. To get there, the machines needed to pass a small village with a sharp curve. We were very nervous if the prefabricated wood elements could reach the plot. But luckily the construction company managed.”

“The machines needed to pass a small village with a sharp curve. We were very nervous if the prefabricated wood elements could reach the plot.”

Did you learn something new from the project?
“We learned that it's a pleasure to build in Austria. All parties in the construction industry seem well educated and communicative. So we were able to solve the problems together in a smooth way. Everyone contributed with a lot of knowledge so we were very excited about the process, despite that we were sitting in Berlin and mostly communicating over FaceTime to the construction site. But when we were there physically, we saw the prettiest construction site I have ever seen. Perhaps because all elements were massive cross-laminated timber (CLT), so all we saw was wood.”

The Mountain House
The minimalist silhouette of the house blends in beautifully with the surrounding alpine landscape.

And what do you think about the final result? Is there anything you would do differently now?
“Good question. There's no building in the world I wouldn't change. It's a never-ending process. But now this house is completed, so the ideas that continue to evolve will have to be implemented in the next project. We could have had less wall and more glass in the lower level, but this way you feel a bit more protected, so it's probably all good.”

Get inspired

Soft Edge chair
Ambit lamp
Design House Stockholm
Knot cushion
Loop Stand table
Unikko cushion cover
L-1 desk lamp
Palissade chair
Flowerpot and saucer

Who: Sigurd Larsen

  • Danish architect who works in the fields of architecture and furniture design.
  • Founded his own studio in Berlin in 2010.
  • Has a master's degree from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.
  • Been a professor at Berlin International University of Applied Sciences since 2016, and an assistant professor at University of the Arts, Berlin in 2011–2017.
  • Has previously worked at OMA-Rem Koolhaas in New York, MVRDV in Rotterdam and COBE Architects in Copenhagen.

Text: Nora Uotila Images: Sigurd Larsen, Christian Flatscher and Janine Sametzky

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