Gallery: SPOOKY ECO HOUSE: The Dragspelhuset Accordion House

Interior of Accordion House

Photo courtesy of James Silverman Photography

While this cabin looks spookily lizard-like, its unusual structure was created in response to Swedish environmental building regulations. The solar-powered off-grid cabin is owned and designed by Maartje Lammers and Boris Zeisser of 24H Architecture as a family summer vacation retreat in southern Sweden’s Glaskogen nature reserve. The locals of the lakeside area affectionately call the house “Dragspelhuset,” or Accordion House because a room of the house is capable of extending outwards over the nearby stream.

Before Lammers and Zeisser converted this stream-side cabin into a wondrous, fantastical retreat, it was a small, one room fishing shack on the banks of Lake Ovre Glaskogen. According to Swedish regulations, no new construction is allowed on waterfronts, and the cabin was already very close to the maximum set-back from the property line, which made additions challenging. As an additional restriction, no additions to the cabin could be larger than 300 sq feet, but they found the location ideal and bought it anyways. With a bit of ingenuity and a careful design to maximize space they were able to build according to regulations and still have their dream retreat.

Inspired by Frank Loyd Wright and Fallingwater, Zeisser wanted a house that extended out over water. To meet all the Swedish regulations and their own requriments, Lammers and Zeisser designed for a moveable room that can be rolled out along two steel rails with a series of ropes and pulleys. This living room area extends out while the family is in residence, and returns into position when they leave. This way, the extension has no foundation and is really a part of the main footprint, which circumvents the size restrictions on additions and set-back lines.

The organic cabin has a frame constructed of pine, with western red cedar shakes, which will eventually turn gray, blending in with its surroundings. The interior is naturally bright and lined with silver birth laths. Reindeer hides were nailed to the walls and ceiling to provide extra insulation, which was inspired by the Sami culture in Northern Scandanavia. Additionally, the cabin has no running water or phone lines and is not tied to the electric grid. The off-grid cabin is powered by solar panels on the roof.

When fully extended, the cabin is 775 sq ft, with a kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom and a sleeping loft. As the architects describe Dragspelhuset, they see it as a tightly sealed cacoon in the winter when the movable extension is stored inside the body. When they return in the summer and extend the living room, they liken it to a butterfly expanding its wings to provide shelter on rainy days. Either way, it is an ingenious use of a small space, totally off-grid and in harmony with its surroundings.

+ Dragspelhuset

+ 24H Architecture

Via Cubeme


or your inhabitat account below


  1. dizzy August 27, 2009 at 6:10 am

    The owners used a lot of the ideas of the Sami, the native people of Scandinavia, including the use of reindeer hides for insulation. I’ll bet the Sami, and probably the owners of this house, leave a much smaller “footprint” on Earth than the smug critics above, who are probably destroying our habitat in many other ways. Do they have airconditioning, a car, use a clothesdryer, etc? And if anyone wants my skin, and indeed anything else, when I am dead, please feel free. Better to be used than wasted.
    Incidentally, Ms Meinhold says the owners were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright & Fallingwater, but in the interview I saw with them, they said they were inspired by Antonio Gaudi, and the house certainly looks more Gaudi than Wright. They also said they pull the extension in when the weather is cold, so that it creates double the insulation, which is both effective & environmentally sound.

  2. psycho_psilocybin June 26, 2009 at 2:36 am

    the hides were actually obtained by a civilization in sweden that uses the deer for all purposes. they use the meat, bones, and fur to survive. dont jump to conclusions just because there is real animal fur to insulate the house. i absolutely adore this house whether it was originally designed in the 80s or not. everyone is such a critic these days.

  3. svrdlu November 9, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    If you looked carefully, as well as reading the article, you’d note the hunting rifle leaning up against a chair also. Maybe they hunted, gutted, skinned and prepared every single one of those pelts themselves? I hope they ate the reindeer steaks while sitting in their nice cabin.

  4. Cerydwyn November 8, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    I thought this was really interesting, until I noticed the animal hides. Not cool at all!! It seems a flagrant and gluttonous display. “Renewable” or not, they were living at one time and had to be slaughtered to get their skins. Sorry, astonishingly bad taste.

  5. mh2 November 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Hey, this is cool but not the first time….Bart Prince originally desinged this methond back in the 80’s. i’m not to crazy about all the fur, but i bet its nice to rub up against.

  6. Music Hobo November 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Eh, this is what happens when I skim articles. Sadly this isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. heh..*cough*

  7. utopian robot November 2, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    @ totoan and music hobo, if you actually read the article instead of jumping to conclusions you would have discovered that they are reindeer hides. As far as summer houses for millionaires go, this one is quite modest in it’s size and it’s use of electricity, which is %100 renewable solar. I have never seen a shingled building like this before, the framing under those shakes must be either really messy or incredibly clever.

  8. Music Hobo November 2, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t really see the conflict with the green philosophy if those furs are real. Like it or not animals are a renewable and if properly handled renewable resources. But I will protest if those are what I think they are. Wolf pelts aren’t that cool people they are just tacky and sad.

  9. ToToan November 1, 2008 at 11:32 am

    are those real animal fur? if it is, I don\\\\\\\’t see why this design can be considered green at all. Plz take a moment to judge if it is a good example of sustainable design or not.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home