Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Oddly-shaped House on Seurasaari

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Oddly-shaped house on Seurasaari (Helsinki, Finland).

Image: GrrlScientist, 4 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

Can anyone tell me why this house is shaped the way it is? Does it have something to do with heavy snowfall or with how warm air moves inside a house?


  1. #1 speedwell
    September 28, 2009

    I bet the first story was finished out when the builders were comparatively young and poor, and the second story added later as money and time allowed. Although it’s odd to cantilever at least three sides of a home, it’s not impossible. From what I know of house design, having floors above empty space tends rather to cool the space due to airflow under the floor bearing away heat.

  2. #2 Rosie Redfield
    September 28, 2009

    But it keeps the snow from piling up against the walls and windows. The roof structure is typical of areas with heavy winter snow accumulation.

  3. #3 HP
    September 28, 2009

    I don’t know about Finland, but in some jurisdictions, property taxes are based on frontage, rather than total square footage. If you make the upper floors larger than the ground floor, you can pay less tax for the same amount of floor space.

    So you get lots of buildings with overhanging upper storeys.

  4. #4 Lassi Hippeläinen
    September 28, 2009

    It never looked as a typical Finnish house to me, but I haven’t bothered my head with it. But snow fall isn’t that heavy here.

    I had to check the web pages of the Seurasaari Foundation. The Finnish section explains that the architect of the island, Frithiof Mieritz (1863 – 1916), designed that house in a Norwegian style he had learned during a trip to Holmenkollen. Also other buildings of the public park are evolutions of stabbur.

    Note that those buildings are not connected with the outdoor museum that displays old Finnish folk architecture (skansen).

  5. #5 Cuttlefish
    September 28, 2009

    I did see many buildings in Bulgaria that are similar, though not identical. The style there is “Bulgarian National Revival”–as it was explained to us, it was a means of keeping streets passable while maximizing floor space (upstairs, at least). Once it is a fashion, even a house not directly on the street could share those features.

  6. #6 "GrrlScientist"
    September 28, 2009

    oh no! what is the world coming to if digital cuttlefish has stopped writing in rhyme?

  7. #7 Ron Brenner
    September 29, 2009

    The house does look very traditionally Norwegian. A pretty simple house that is well proportioned and an interesting design. The original colors would have likely been much more vivid.

  8. #8 Pierce R. Butler
    September 30, 2009

    Dunno about the house design in itself, but that vine or shrub climbing all over the wall has to be doing some serious damage to the paint and tightness of the exterior siding, not to mention making the interior dark and gloomy (unless there are no windows on the any part of the entrance side, an even weirder design decision).

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