Sverre Fehn. Villa in Norrköping – Villa Norrköping

Situation plan

In 1963 Sverre Fehn designed this Villa in Norrköping. It was part of several architectural competitions which took place in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Six dwellings were built, but only Sverre Fehn’s (also called Villa number 3) achieved a result which was not a simple residential building but an architectural masterpiece in itself.


The theme of this competition was Nordic Villa Park.  150sqm was the maximum size for the villas, which would have to host a family with two kids. These villas had to be designed following the modernist principles of simple and rational modular solutions in house construction. Fehn designed the Villa for an undetermined family as well as independently from the landscape and orientation. Fehn was always sceptical of views.  He is known to have criticized the aesthetic reduction of nature to a view on several occasions.

The image of the villa resembles a previous house designed by Fehn. As Christian Norberg-Schulz wrote in his book Sverre Fehn: works, projects, writings, 1949-1996 (1997).

“The Schreiner House was followed in 1964 by a more sophisticated residence in Norrköping, Sweden. It is considered “more sophisticated” because of the rigorous symmetry of its typological plan.”

Villa Schreiner plan and elevations, (1960) – Nasjonalmuseet                                   Villa Norrköping elevations (1963) – Nasjonalmuseet

Floor plan

The floor plan follows a Greek cross shape. The exterior brick walls and four inner pillars support the structure. On the one hand, the main living space is in the arms of the cross, this open space can be divided into nine rooms. On the other hand, the wet rooms (kitchen and bathroom) are located in the centre. The apparent rigid geometrical order is balanced by the innumerable combination of spaces created with the panels, which allows the house to adapt to the needs of those who live in it.


The Villa is composed of several elements which give the house unity and coherence.

  • The four u-shaped blind brick walls.
  • The core and the skylight.
  • The continuous space around the core and the doors which can interrupt it.
  • The chimney.
  • The roof (the structure).
  • The windows.

Axonometric showing the structure of the Villa        Public/private, served/server spaces and day-night light, circulation and use diagrams.

Window frame detail

Sverre Fehn designed this house up to the smallest detail. The furniture is integrated into the walls, opening and closing the spaces, as we can see in the kitchen.  The detail of the stepped windows frame is very remarkable. Three of them resemble of an inverted cone section and the fourth one can be opened creating a continuity of space between outside and inside. Fehn also designed two pergolas outside the dwelling.

The villa and one of the pergolas – TEIGENS Fotoatelier                                             Outdoor- indoor relationship – TEIGENS Fotoatelier

Window framework – TEIGENS Fotoatelier                                       Furniture and walls design – TEIGENS Fotoatelier

It has often been said that Fehn was inspired by Palladio’s Villa Rotonda, but he explains in The Labyrinth (The poetry of the straight line) that it was not his starting point.

Drawing by Sverre Fehn

“I once made a house which everybody claimed was inspired by Palladio. To be honest, Palladio was not in my mind at that time. But later, I met him. By seeing the plan of my house, he said to me: ” You know, Rotunda was a joke… at that time we lost the horizon as a mystery. It was a shock for all of us when we realized that the world was a globe, it was measurable.” So I made the earth a labyrinth with a single house of four fronts. When you leave the house facing west and walk around the world, you come back to face the same front.


Villa Norrköping also responded to many of PAGON’s preoccupations, such as the search of an architecture of variety and adaptability, an architecture that, within a strict order, would allow maximum freedom and choice. The module was the key to all these aspirations. 

Fehn was influenced by Le Corbusier when designing this house. He used a 2.5m grid in the floor plan and the inner height of the central body is 3.66m, this dimension was taken from the book Le Modulor blue series.

The Villa Norrköping follows a circular path, articulated by the glazed walls in the corners and the blind walls, creating an attractive sequence of openings and closings. If we compare this to Le Corbusier’s promenade architecturale we can see that Le Corbusier’s promenades have a well-defined start and end, while in Fehn’s house the movement is circular and infinite.



Nasjonalmuseet Oslo

Villa Schreiner. Sverre Fehn. As built 10 Classic – Mari Hvattum (2014)

Sverre Fehn: works, projects, writings, 1949-1996  – Christian Norberg-Schulz(1997)

Sverre Fehn: The poetry of the straight line – Sverre Fehn (1992)

Sverre Fehn: The thought of construction – Per Olaf Fjeld (1983)

Photographs by TEIGENS Fotoatelier – Archive

Drawings by Irene García Santiago