An architectural studio in southern Norway reflects the silent beauty of an often overlooked region.

Norwegian nature is known for being dramatic, cold, harsh – waves that tumble onto rogue cliffs and steep mountains that plummet into breathtakingly beautiful fjords.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

With the sea as your closest neighbour.

Yet there is a different part of Norway that often goes under the radar. Protected by numerous small islands that prevent the roughest seas from approaching the mainland, the southern coastline is quieter. The cliffs have been smoothened by generations of gentle tidal waves and are soft and inviting to touch, especially when still warm after a long day of sunshine. The gentleness of the sea also means that the sea here is quiet and often, the only sound that is to be heard, is the steadfast ticking of an old wooden boat, navigating through the still waters.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

Egeland always aims to use materials With the sea as your closest neighbour. already present in the surroundings.

This southernmost part of Norway, “Sørlandet” as it is called in Norwegian, though less known to outsiders, is one of the most popular areas for cabins and holiday homes in all of Norway. The idyllic setting makes for a beautiful holiday, and buyers from across the country are eager to secure themselves a plot on which to build their summer paradise.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

The interior of a Valdres cabin.

Coastal villas and cabins

When they do, Marius Egeland is the person they often call. The architect, who runs a studio with six employees under his own name, specialises in villas and cabins along the southern coastline.

“You have to direct the project into the landscape, preserve the rock and the flora and let the building slide into the surroundings,” Egeland explains when asked what is particular about architecture in this part of Norway.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

The boat house, an integral part also of a southern Norwegian house.

Almost all of what Egeland does is within 100 meters of the shore, the so-called 100-meter belt, which in Norway is strictly regulated. He says that the limited number of properties for sale in the area means that the demand remains high and those that are able to build new constructions, are adamant that they want quality buildings.

Egeland is happy to comply with their wish.

“We build houses that will withstand time, that will really last”, Egeland stresses.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

This Valdres cabin is radically different from houses on the southern shoreline, though the principles are the same.

Exceptional craftsmanship

Because many of his constructions are on properties that are not always easy to reach – many of them are even on islands without road access – the challenges for the craftsmen in the construction phase are considerable. However, Egeland knows they are up for the job.

“It might be an inheritance from the rich boatbuilding tradition in this part of Norway, but we really do have exceptional craftsmen,” he underlines, adding that the focus on quality in this type of construction in a way makes the craftsmen’s jobs easier.

“The emphasis on quality in materials and otherwise allows the craftsmen to really do their jobs”, the architect explains.

From Valdres to Greece

While Egeland’s focus is on the southern shoreline, he is also getting an increasing number of commissions elsewhere. Much of it thanks to Instagram, which has allowed him to expand geographically.

But when the nature changes, the architecture has to change too.

“I recently built a cabin in Valdres [a mountainous area in the middle of Norway] and inevitably the design has to change for the house to fit into the surroundings,” Egeland stresses.

Another place that Egeland has ventured into is Greece, where he is currently working on a holiday home. The architect explains that while the surroundings are different, the demands for adapting architecture to nature are as strong in Greece as they are in Norway.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

A reflection of nature

If “Sørlandet” gets less attention in the overall promotion of Norway, it is at least in part because people in this part of the country are somewhat reluctant to attract attention to themselves. They might be aware of the beauty that surrounds them but just let it slip almost unnoticed into the larger Norwegian context without making a fuss about it. If you stop to pay attention, however, the silent, somewhat mellow beauty of this part of the country is mesmerising.

In that sense, Marius Egeland’s architecture is a true reflection of the natural – and cultural – context he operates in.

Marius Egeland: Building into Nature

Fruens Alle, evening.

Instagram: @mariusegelandarkitekter

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