Villa Överby by John Robert Nilsson


Villa Överby by John Robert Nilsson

This house on a rocky hilltop in Sweden by Swedish architect John Robert Nilsson sits upon on a limestone-covered concrete plinth, which provides a continuous floor surface inside and outside of the house.


The exterior of Villa Överby is finished in matte black, interrupted only by glass walls which provide views out towards the sea.

Villa Överby by John Robert Nilsson

The glass wall frames sit in recesses in the limestone slabs, allowing the base of the glass to be flush with the ground.


The plinth extends out into a terrace at the rear of the building with a cut-away at the edge that creates a sunken swimming pool.

Villa Överby by John Robert Nilsson

Photography is by Åke E:son Lindman.


More Swedish design on Dezeen »
More stories about houses on Dezeen »

The following information is from the architect:

Villa Överby
Värmdö, Stockholm

Situated on a natural plateau atop a rocky headland, the house enjoys panoramic views across the bay and the evening sun to the west. The Gotland limestone on concrete foundation is crafted like a massive plinth, building walkways along three of the house’s façades under the roof’s deep overhangs.


On the side facing the sea, the limestone-covered foundation opens out into a large terrace with a sunken swimming pool and recessed sitting area providing shelter from the wind. The same limestone-covered foundation forms the connected floor space throughout the house.


The entrance side of the house features a solid façade wall, plastered and decolored to matte black. The only interruption is a ceiling-high pivot door with a thin lattice of black stained oak filtering the light. The other façades are made up of a structural glazing system of full glass walls.


The insulated glass consists of an outer layer of Optiwhite glass, reducing daylight discoloration, and an inner layer of thermal control glass to avoid condensation and downdraft.  The bottom of the glass frame is completely recessed and hidden between limestone slabs, making the boundary between outside and inside practically non-existent. A hidden moat around the house, constructed of stainless steel with a limestone cover, channels rain and snow water away.


The floor plan of the house, a simple rectangular shape, is clearly divided into private and social spheres. The private sphere is further divided into bedrooms, bathrooms and storage, built around an open-concept living space. Instead of traditional doors, most openings are ceiling height. Simply turning the corner gives you the impression of entering a new room.


The formative idea behind the house was to create a clear and concentrated form in marked contrast to the surrounding landscape. The presence of a concrete object, abstract for the location, also heightens the experience of the rich shades of nature.


While an agreement on the basic idea was reached quickly, finalizing requirements regarding quality, precision and attention to detail was an extensive project. Behind the clean lines hides a series of advanced technological systems. Tap water is extracted from the sea and treated in a desalination unit. Heating for the floors, outdoor pool and hot water is produced by a geothermal heat pump.


District cooling, so-called free air-conditioning, is also pumped into the house through the rock shaft, which means that all air-conditioning is basically free of charge. All systems are operated by a smart control and monitoring solution, using a web-based interface, controlled via the internet or a mobile handset.


Architects (chief, managing and co-workers): John Robert Nilsson Arkitektkontor, Robert Nilsson chief, Maria Århammar managing, Niklas Singstedt / Martin Zetherström / Vincenzo Cassotta contributory.
Interior design: John Robert Nilsson Arkitektkontor
Landscaping, garden: Mikado Mark & Trädgård, Robert Forsberg
Other contractors: Geo Markservice AB, Eva Holmqvist (water/sewage), CSE Projekt, Henrik Nilsson (construction), Itecon AB, Eskil Stenstrand (water), Jan Fransson Elkonsult AB, Håkan Ackland (electricity)
Glass contractors/Suppliers: JB Glaskonsult AB, Johan Backlund, JONI Metall & glasprojektering/ CL Specialglas, Claes Lundén
Client: Private
Construction form: Shared construction
Building contractor: Liljestrand Entreprenad LE AB
Gross area, sq. m: 250 sq. m
Year built: 2007-2009

  • A high level of execution on beautiful details. Good job!

  • mcmlxix

    Absolutely serene. Minimalism done right is liberating.

  • Klyk

    a 3 bed house with no doors? the service core seems a bit over done

    • rudolf

      there are cavity sliders, if you look at the plan closely

  • deb

    what a privilege.. either to live or to design for that beautiful landscape

  • nlm

    Nice take on Mies et al. The trick of blocking the vista with the structure en route to the entrance and then revealing it once indoors reminds me of Richard Meier's Douglas House. It's nice to imagine the limestone plinth existing in some form or another centuries after the house is gone.

    • yuc

      Yes. There is also a bit of Neutra in it, isn't there? That view of the glass façade with trees in front and a Californian blue sky in the background and finally the chaiselongues on the terrace bordered with a pool make one of those Schulmann (?) photographs of Neutra houses.

      • nlm

        You're right, it is quite similar to Neutra's Stahl House famously photographed by Julius Shulman as you mentioned. It's amazing that the evolution of glazing and insulation has allowed California Modern to be built in Sweden! I hope the infinity edge pool is heated.

      • nlm

        not just Neutra…I'm thinking of Pierre Koenig

        • yuc

          Right. Especially the Stahl House; I think it is so much in the same spirit.

  • Ross

    "a 3 bed house with no doors? the service core seems a bit over done"

    You can just make out some pocketed sliders.

    • Nicole

      If you look a bit closer you see there are several sliding doors.
      So, there 's nothing to nag about, just enjoy the scenery.

  • Michael

    stunning. what a beautiful plan.

  • Nicest house I have seen in a while.

    Landscape is amazing – all nicely understated, nothing larger than it should be. My only "negative" comment would be, how much use would you get out of a pool in Sweden? Wouldn't it be a block of ice most of the year?

    • Iceskate

      Yes of course. I think that pool in Sweden is called "ice-pool" and people use to iceskate on it, instead of swimming into it.
      Come on! There is plenty of pools in Sweden :)

  • Guy

    This house is rumoured to be the villain's house in the Hollywood version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" with Daniel Craig.

    • lepearl

      It sure looks like it!

  • Ummmm

    How I would like to live there…. wonderful !!!!
    Just a critical point about the lights inside… they seem a little bit too simple, I wonder if they are enough to give a warm atmosphere.
    Otherwise, it is superb.

  • Perfect!
    Minimal and beautiful

  • Iulia

    Simple and yet very interesting! Beautiful work!

  • How blissfully serene!

  • Damien

    No doubt its beautiful, but I believe that it was possible to place the bathrooms on the perimeter to provide them with natural ventilation and light. I understand that typical bathroom windows would ruin the clean facades but theres many other solutions to this problem without changing the concept and resulting in a much more functional piece of architecture. This type of bathrooms inside an apartment building are fine, but in a house a bathroom without a window? Its not like an architect has to decide between designing a nice house or a functional house. good architecture has both.

    • James

      Completely agree. I can only imagine how nice it would have been to have a sunken soaking tub overlooking the magnificent landscape, perhaps the tub would be made of limestone as well.

  • REm

    Ooh my another glass house,not trying to take anything away from this design, its truly beautiful and the detailing is amazing but we've all seen it before.Just tried of seeing generic buildings and designs, lets say we try something innovative and different.

    • Guest

      So you don't like houses with a lot of glass? That seems very generalizing.

      As for innovation and difference, those do not appear to be the intentions of the architects here, as far as the formal language is concerned.



  • guest

    a fantastic house, but with all that vast outside endlessly intruding a yearning for shelter /enclosure could ensue, especially when that vast outside is completely white…..

  • MartynYoung

    This place was used in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s so beautiful it kept distracting me from the film.