In the beautiful but cold and windy Iceland, there is a summer house called Ylja, whose name means warmth, for being the shelter and symbol of union for a Mexican-Icelandic family. The house was built in a rural area near the capital, specifically in the municipality of Grimsnes.

Project Name: Ylja House
Studio Name: EDDE Design Studio
Location: Grimsnes, Iceland
Gross floor area: 230 m2
Design: 2021
Construction: 2022
Completion: 2023
Architect in charge: Erna Daniela López Córdova
Structural: Verkfraedistofa Reykjavikur, Mihai Montoc, Glulam Iceland ehf.
Photographs: Erna Daniela López Córdova, Fernanda Moreno Septién

Ylja House by EDDE Design Studio-Sheet1
©Erna Daniela López Córdova

One of the main factors to consider in the project was the natural context. The project is located near the shore of Lake Úlfljótsvatn, one of Iceland’s most important bodies of water. Ylja, surrounded by breathtaking views of the lake, the ever-changing fields and mountains that transform with the passing of the seasons. Dark, cold winters with glittering snow-capped mountains and unmissable northern lights, as well as spectacular summers with endless days of contemplation. Therefore, the shape of the house has been designed and situated in such a way that it has a 180 degree view and blends in with this wonderful landscape to look as natural as possible.

Ylja House by EDDE Design Studio-Sheet5
©Fernanda Moreno Septién

Iceland is a place where climate is the main factor when designing and constructing a building. The building restrictions are minimal, and the land surface had no significant slopes, so the main constraint was the weather and climate, as it was only possible to build during the summer. At the same time, the restrictions of the project were determined in terms of square meters, materials and heights.

Ylja House by EDDE Design Studio-Sheet8
©Erna Daniela López Córdova

Casa Ylja arose from the desires of a family to conceive a meeting and gathering point where everyone could connect and share new experiences outside of their daily lives. The internal layout of the house was designed to achieve this goal, where the warm and familiar space is distributed in the particular customs of this multicultural family, placing the dining area as the central part of the house, following the rich Mexican culinary culture, where the after-dinner conversation acquires great prominence in these spaces.

Ylja House by EDDE Design Studio-Sheet10
©Fernanda Moreno Septién

The construction materials used are Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) from MM Holtz, chosen for its tone, interior appearance and ease of installation; Lerki wood for facades and different types of membranes such as Transpir EVO 90, Transpir EVO 340 and Vapor Stop from Rothroblaas.

In the interior of the house, the color palette was kept neutral, trying not to generate an outstanding contrast with the immediate context. The natural tone of the CLT laminate wood was used, integrating subtle accents of green, black and white as a secondary color.

Ylja House by EDDE Design Studio-Sheet12
©Erna Daniela López Córdova

Despite the challenges, the house features: a hot tub, as it is customary in Iceland to have such a habit; septic tank, as there are no drainage connections in the area; geothermal water supply; radiant floor heating; and good thermal insulation. Hydraulic pipes had to be laid at a depth of 1.50 meters to prevent them from freezing and bursting.


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