The Leimio family lives in Tuusula, southern Finland, in a “flat cap” house typical of the 1970–80s. The building has an L-shaped floor plan, a low hip roof, a timber frame and a yellow brick cladding. The family wanted to add a new floor to the house because they needed more space and the house was, in their words, ‘ugly’!
The objective was to preserve as much of the existing structure as possible. It was a major challenge but, at the same time, the only acceptable solution from the point of view of material recycling and sustainable development. Additionally, this reduced the cost of the project considerably compared to the construction of a new house. It is not justifiable to pull down a house simply because it is ‘ugly’. It must be made beautiful! New spirit and life had to be injected into the building – something that would benefit the many old houses dotted throughout the length and breadth of Nordic countries.
Standing at the end of a quiet street, the Leimio House is always viewed from a narrow angle. I paid special attention to the visual movement of the eaves line in the air to try and create a new dance against the sky and release the old from the fetters of ugliness. The interior was to restate this movement. The garage door was converted into the new entrance. New bedrooms, a living area and bathroom were constructed upstairs while downstairs was left more or less unchanged except for one window that was moved a little bit. The yellow brick walls were plastered and the new floor was made of timber. Light enters through a skylight down to the ground floor.
The window sills – some 30 cm deep – have become an ever-changing playing field favoured by the young of the family. It is the best possible feedback an architect can have – a house should provide a stage for life.