Long fascinated by the sparse, coastal landscape of North Jutland — an island known for its cinematic skies at the northernmost tip of Denmark — Mogens Larsen bought an undeveloped piece of land amid the sand dunes and lyme grass of the Kandestederne area in 1977. He then proceeded to ignore it for more than three decades.
“It was not until my first grandchild came into the world in 2011 that I thought it was time to build something there,” says the 72-year-old, who owns a number of stores selling hiking and adventure gear. Mogens lives in Copenhagen and holidays at the Kandestederne property with his daughter and her family. The beach is just a short stroll from the cabin but, “we mainly use it for a cold shock, then seek the warmth of one of the house’s concrete terraces,” he says.
Kandestederne is a popular holiday destination and, when it came to building his summer house, Mogens was faced with strict development regulations due to easements in the area. But he didn’t consider them a hindrance. “I have been very happy about these easements,” he says. “It provides a beautiful overall impression of the summer-house area, as all the houses must be long wooden buildings, with earth-coloured woodwork and turf roofs.”
After seeking advice from a friend who lives locally, Mogens approached architect Peter Lind-Bonderup, who runs LBB3 Architects with his wife Hanne, an interior designer. His brief: to create a restful, private holiday home that made the most of its grassy surrounds. “Like all projects, there were challenges,” Peter says. “Where should we position the windows and glass doors so the view isn’t interrupted by the neighbouring buildings? And, not least, how can we provide the house with character, while signalling that it was built in 2011 and not in the mid 1970s like the others?”
The solution was to create a box-like house that can be opened or closed up as required. When the home is not in use, large, timber-clad sliding shutters reminiscent of barn doors cover the windows and glass doors, protecting the house from the elements. When the family visits, the shutters are opened, light fills the rooms and the atmosphere changes entirely. “The house is not used every weekend, so we thought the idea of ‘unfolding’ the house on arrival — then packing it away again upon departure — made a lot of sense,” says Peter.
Mogens was also adamant that the property be low maintenance and built from materials that require little upkeep. “I didn’t want to spend my holidays painting windows and woodwork,” he says.
So, in addition to cast concrete, Peter decided to use robust timbers, such as mahogany window frames and cedar cladding, and a variety of drought-resistant sedum for the green roof. “These are materials that can handle themselves,” he says. “And they acquire a beautiful patina, becoming better looking over the years.”
In the middle of the rectangular-shaped house is a large open-plan living space — containing the kitchen, dining and living areas — where the walls and ceiling are clad in whitewashed pine boards. At one end of the house are two bedrooms, and at the other is the main bedroom and bathroom. Like the exterior, Mogens wanted the interior to be functional and low maintenance, so a HTH kitchen was installed with a pale blue glass splashback providing a hint of colour. Large skylights in the living areas let in light during the day and “in the evening, you can see the stars,” says Mogens.
Outside, two concrete terraces, one on either side of
the house, extend the living area and complement the timber cladding. “I use the little terrace under the roof early in the day. There is always shelter and sun at that time,” Mogens says. “In the afternoon, we tend to use the terrace on the north side of the house.”
On hot summer days, the shutters can be used to block out the sun. Cool breezes flow through the windows, which have been carefully positioned to capture the views. “Only lyme grass and dune roses grow here,” says Mogens. “When you look out at the landscape, you don’t even notice the many summer houses, as their earth colours and turf roofs camouflage them. At sundown it’s lovely to sit upon one of the tall hills with a thermos and enjoy the last rays of the sun, while the sky turns increasingly scarlet.”