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Is this Swedish retreat peak Japandi?

Inspired by Japanese homes and Nordic fishing villages, Norm Architects unveils a stunningly tranquil waterside lodge.


2 min read

Photography: Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

Hidden among the picturesque beech forests of Halland, Norm Architects’ latest gem was designed on behalf of Ästad Vingård, one of Sweden’s largest vineyards and spa resorts. Incorporating key elements from minimalist Scandinavian design and traditional Japanese architecture, the resort – christened Sjöparken – aims to combine understated luxury with an intimate connection to its natural surroundings.

Each of Sjöparken’s seven villas contain four hotel rooms, smoothly intertwined by wood and glass corridors that strike a balance between privacy and transparency. This light-filled, airy layout – along with the green, living roofs – helps pay homage to the site’s history, creating the sensation of walking amidst an open-air fishing village. Inside, understated furnishings and natural, earthy materials all reflect the colours and textures of the lakeside forest, from the warm oakwood cladding to the inviting texture of natural stone and ceramic décor.

Despite the neutral palette and wooden elements being characteristically Nordic, the influence of Japanese architecture emerges within transitional spaces like the column-lined walkways that connect each villa, as well as the lodge’s louvered elements and private bathing jetties. Alongside this deftly executed ‘Japandi’ aesthetic, Sjöparken was also influenced by the configuration of tropical waterside resorts, helping this floating village become a unique hybrid of luxury hospitality tropes. “The project is all about balance,” explains Norm Architects’ Jonas Bjerre-Poulson. “We wanted to create something that could stand out and be spectacular in the most understated and natural way possible. A project that seems like the most natural thing for this place, and at the same time as something otherworldly and unique.”

Exemplifying this cohesive approach to nature, the wooden louvers used to divide each living space also transform the filtered sunlight into a design feature of its own, removing the need for added artwork or décor. In keeping with this, the studio opted for soft, gradual lighting from Anker & Co so as not to compete with the ample supply of natural light already provided by glazed floor-to-ceiling windows. However, while the studio may have drawn from biophilic design and humble Nordic fishing huts, decadent features such as in-room saunas also represent a heightened level of comfort aboard these wooden piers. Sjöparken also expands on the Ästad Vingård resort by providing accommodation for its Michelin-star restaurant, ÄNG, designed by Norm Architects back in 2022.

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