House of Many-Worlds in Oslo, Norway by Austigard Arkitektur.
Sam Merwin Jr.‘s 1951 science fiction novel The House of Many Worlds is arguably his best work—telling the tale of a creepy West Virginia mansion that’s also a portal between parallel time streams. Whether this classic account of alternate dimensions was the inspiration for an apartment extension of the same name in Oslo by Norwegian firm Austigard Arkitektur isn’t clear—but I’m making the connection here just the same. Like the mansion’s multi-worlds, Austigard Arkitektur has created a set of multi-functional spaces to make the most of the relatively small home. So, it’s not science fiction, but it’s still pretty cool.
With walls clad in black or white pigmented beech veneer, the home’s centrepiece is a large 1.5x3m family table. It’s a space for the family to converge that’s encircled by wide windows with views out across snowy Oslo treetops (and their woodland inhabitants—squirrels and birds). The generous size of the table means family members can be together, but still be occupied with different affairs and activities around the table: breakfast, homework, chatting, phone-scrolling, etc. The idea is that worlds can coexist, without interfering.
Away from the family table, spaces become more intimate. It plays on the idea of a socially connected open plan in a double height space—the kitchen, lounge, and library are individual zones but aren’t separated rooms. Designed for just sitting and lying down with a wide, multifunctional bench, the loft is the most secluded zone of the apartment. Shielded by semi-transparent perforated steel panels on either side, you’re able to peer down to the table and kitchen below, as well as out across the trees.