Anatomy of Minimum

“The enormous lake stretched flat and smooth and white all the way to the edge of the grey sky.”

—Laura Ingalls Wilder
Anatomy of a Minimum

Words by John Pawson

Drevviken is a lake in southern Stockholm. To the north lie deciduous and pine forests, marshland and an area of wetland — all of them rich habitats for flora and fauna. During summer the woods that fringe the lake’s shores form a dense green curtain of foliage. Winter effects a dramatic shift from color to monochrome, freezing the lake and blanketing everything in snow, removing all distinction between water and ground, with only the stark outline of a tree revealing the underlying presence of land. Settlements are dominated by one-family houses, the majority of them built according to local vernacular tradition, as pitch-roofed, wooden structures, typically painted (iron-oxide-based) red and enriched with simple pierced-timber detailing.

John Pawson

The project’s location is a steep, wooded slope with uninterrupted views over the water. Set in close proximity to its neighbors and to the other properties that line the lakeside road, its context is a curious hybrid of the suburban and the rural. The intention was always a piece of modest architecture, respectful both of budget and of the uniquely Swedish notion of appropriateness expressed in the word lagom. Like the concept of Minimum, lagom speaks of the value of a perfectly judged sufficiency, of the territory that lies between too much and too little. It embodies an approach to life that may be expressed in everything, from the way a person eats to the way they design their house.