5 fundamental design principles of scandinavian architecture
January 25, 2019

Over the last several years Scandinavians have set the standard for effortless cool and great design (think Acne Studios denim; the ubiquitous Fjällräven backpack; and every third Pinterest image featuring a light-filled studio expertly finished in varying shades of black, white and wood) but the roots of Scandinavian style go far deeper than hygge.

The Scandinavian architecture that we know today – design with a focus on craftsmanship, materials, and clean lines – is a response to the culture, geography, landscapes, and lifestyle of northern Europe. It’s an approach that emphasizes quality over quantity, creating clutter-free spaces that provide relief from the chaos of everyday life. And it endures for the simple reason that Scandinavian design appeals on a fundamentally human level, something that never goes out of style.

Read on for the five fundamental design principles that inform Scandinavian architecture.

Design Principle #1
Functional, Comfortable, Accessible
An essential part of Scandinavian culture is the idea that good design should be available to everyone (not only the 1%). It should also focus on comfort and functionality, with flexible spaces that accommodate a variety of activities and help put people at ease.

Design Principle #2
Everything in its Simplest Form
In Scandinavian architecture, simplicity reigns supreme. You can be certain that what’s included is both useful and necessary to the overall environment. Anything superfluous gets stripped away and what’s left is a distilled expression of clean lines, basic shapes, and solid colours.

Design Principle #3
The Importance of Natural Light
It seems ironic that, in a place where long winter nights mean sunlight is in short supply, the people that live there are consistently voted some of the happiest in the world. It’s thanks in part to an architectural emphasis on natural light. Designed to maximize light at every turn, Scandinavian architecture favours skylights, glassed roofs, and large full-length windows, as well as a pale colour palette (white, light grey, ivory) that reflects light and illuminates the space within.

Design Principle #4
Sustainability is Key
Most Scandinavian structures are built using green alternatives and sustainable construction techniques. Efficient energy systems powered by clean energy, cut costs and lower carbon emissions, which makes sense not only for the environment, but for strict Scandinavian laws as well.

Design Principle #5
Connection to Nature
Scandinavian architects are not only interested in preserving nature, but in connecting to it as well. In Scandinavian countries, a connection to nature is a way of life, so buildings are designed to offer a way to stay close to the outdoors, even in urban surroundings. That means large windows that offer clear sightlines to parks and trees, as well as the use of local materials that help projects merge seamlessly into their settings.

Lead Photo Courtesy of @maisonlab