Seafront homes in Vaxholm

Together with Småa, Utopia have designed eight semidetached buildings with eighteen home units in Pålsundsstrand, Vaxholm. The houses are split-level throughout in two to three storeys. The character is inspired by modern Mediterranean homes, which is accentuated by the fact that the houses climb up the slope. The buildings are placed in the terrain on "nature's terms" and are designed to have the least possible impact on the environment and vegetation. Building is under way and the houses will be completed in 2017.

Municipality Vaxholm
Location Pålsundsstrand
Client Småa
Type Bostäder
Year 2015
The houses are modern Mediterranean inspired split-level homes in two to three storeys.

All houses are split-level semidetached in two to three storeys. The character is inspired by modern Mediterranean homes, which is accentuated by the fact that the houses climb up the slope. Materials like stone paving, rendered facades and glass create a minimalist space, both inside and out. The houses have sedum roofs partly to better blend in with the surroundings, and partly to create the closeness to nature that we have aimed for.

We have worked to give the semidetached units a feeling of "its own house" to the greatest extent possible. We believe that not feeling disturbed by neighbours being too close is of utmost importance to the residents. All units are therefore offset, both in plan and elevation. That provides more privacy, as well as minimises one major drawback of traditional semidetached: that patios must be separated by a screen, which in this case would not only impair the fantastic views, but also limit the hours of sunshine on the patio.

Our houses live up to the modern family's demands for design and flexibility of a home. They meet SIS standards and accessibility requirements without compromising on architectural quality and aesthetic finesse. They are open and sociable houses, perfect for various forms of interaction and space for both small and large families to enjoy. The different levels with open living areas and more private spaces allow residents to both be social and retreat when the urge for privacy strikes.

Property conditions

Pålsundsstrand is a south-facing slope overlooking the Pålsundet inlet south of Fredriksberg about two kilometres from central Vaxholm. The area is very attractive with a shoreline reserved for a private marina. The plot is approximately 5,000 square metres. The area is hilly and the height difference from sea level to the existing building is 25 metres.

Pålsundsstrand is a south-facing slope overlooking the Pålsundet inlet south of Fredriksberg about two kilometres from central Vaxholm.


During the course of our work, we have focused on the following aspects, which have formed the backbone and foundation of the project:

Our goal is to create a residential neighbourhood with a strong connection to Pålsundet, while at the same time preserving and enhancing the area's character as a public waterfront gathering place with a marina, docks and walkways along the water. The idea of close interaction between nature, water and architecture has formed the basis for our work. With our proposal, we want to create an environment and residence that adds direct value for the people living there, while helping to profile Vaxholm as an attractive municipality.

Architectural quality
Throughout the project, we have endeavoured to achieve a high architectural, aesthetic and quality feel. The goal is to create a modern waterfront residential neighbourhood with a distinctive, contemporary and interesting architecture.

For the residential units, we have worked consistently with energy-efficient solutions, such as geothermal heat technology and sound materials. The roofs are of green sedum. We have minimised the construction impact on the environment, and excavations are taken care of on site. The area is designed so that rainwater can be used locally.

Site plan

Building placement
Our buildings are placed in the terrain on "nature's terms" and are designed to have the least possible impact on the environment and vegetation. The project consists of nine two and three-storey split-level semidetached buildings with a total of 16 residential units.

We have chosen semidetached for the purpose of optimising the construction surface. A smaller number of units gives the area a less dense and more airy character. The homes are placed in two rows on both sides of a street.

The natural height difference of the plot and the offset placement of the houses give all units good natural light and views of Pålsundet. Contact with the water is strengthened by the large roof terraces, patios and generously sized and glazed living rooms. To further enhance the sense of proximity to nature and the water, stairs and alleys are placed between the buildings that connect new and existing buildings with the woods and water. That helps to preserve the area's character of public land and ensures that Pålsundsstrand remains accessible to both residents and visitors.

The street
We have consistently worked to limit hard surfaces in the neighbourhood. A single, double-sided road for cars minimises the amount of paved areas. The road follows the natural height contours and adheres to the municipality's requirements on inclines.

We have utilised the incline of the plot to "hide" cars under 6 of the buildings. This means that we reduce the need for separate car parks and garages, which again reduces the environmental footprint and concentrates the development in a smaller space.

Beach walk
A beach walk is laid along the water that continues to the nature area east of the site. The beach walk also links up with new walkways through the neighbourhood. This secures public access to the walkways along the water and connects the existing residential area Fredriksberg with Pålsundsstrand and Pålsundet.

Waste management
There are facilities for waste disposal and recycling on the property with a pick-up location near Pålsundsvägen. Everything to avoid large vehicles and refuse trucks inside the area.

Boat club
Today there is a small marina adjacent to Pålsundsbacken. According to the municipality, the area east of the existing facility can eventually be used for a new marina where residents may have priority for new moorings.

Public parking
Next to the north side of the development is a public car park that is used for visitors to the Kruthuset west of the area, to the boat club and to the park-and-ride for commuters. The project will not affect public parking.

Floor plans

The development consists of semidetached houses in two sizes; a larger model with 4-7 rooms over 155 sqm on three levels, and a medium model with 3-5 rooms over 111 sqm on two levels. The homes are very flexible and space-efficient. Ceiling height is 2.6 metres throughout. The development has a total of 16 residential units, 8 large and 8 medium models.

The floor plan gives the homes a spacious and bright character where natural light and views are optimised. The basic idea is to create flexibility with large open layouts on all levels where the residents can personally design their home according to their own needs and taste. There are also terraces and patios facing all directions.

On the entrance level, the kitchen and living room form a large airy room facing the water. The buildings are "directed" to the south and Pålsundet through large windows on the south facade. In the living room, focus is on the view. There is therefore no protruding terrace in front of the living room window. Instead, you have the entire archipelago at your feet. Towards the street, however, the houses are more enclosed in order to protect the privacy of the residents. Adjacent to the entrance is a small garden, and next to the kitchen a patio facing the morning sun in the east.

All entrances are located on the long sides of the houses. There is no sharing entrance with the neighbour, which we believe is appreciated as it enhances the feeling of one's "own house". The recessed entrances also create a roofed-over space that protects prams, bicycles and other belongings from the weather and wind. The entrances help break up the compact design of the houses, create variation and prevent people from seeing in.

On the entrance level is also space for a bedroom, study, playroom or guestroom.

The upper level can be arranged in a number of ways. Bedrooms may suit some, while others may want the opposite with a large living room. We believe that many see it as a great value to be able to change the number of bedrooms according to one's needs. The large roof terrace is also reached from the upper level. The smaller units also have a utility room and bath on level two.

In the larger houses with three storeys, there is the possibility for a further two bedrooms one floor down with their own patio on ground level. This floor also houses a utility room or storage.

Environmental profile

The foundation and level 1 are built of sound materials with concrete, and remaining walls of wood. The thermal inertia of the solid concrete foundation enables absorption and retention of excess heat or cold to emit the heat/cold to one's needs. The concrete foundation also has a very long lifespan.

The roofs are of sedum. Sedum roofs are a form of green roofs consisting of stonecrops and moss that handle both drought and rain, and require minimal maintenance. The green roofs are also used to delay surface runoff of rainwater. Furthermore, the sedum roofs provide a cooler indoor climate in the summer and contribute to thermal insulation in the winter.

Stormwater management: rainwater from roofs and walkways is led directly back to nature.


Number of seafront homes: 16

Large model: 8 of 142 m2
(4 -7 rooms)

Small model: 8 of 108 m2
(4 -5 rooms)

Parking standards: 1.5 space/home

Total number of parking spaces: 27

Total development area: 2,626 m2