A broken heart love story spoken by buildings


This is the bath house at Noatun Farm in Ovre Pasvik, Norway. It is near the border with Russia in the very north of Norway. Norway and Russia share the Pasvik nature reserve which was founded in 1992 as part of the conservation work by the two countries. Noatun Farm stands within the nature reserve.


The bath house log cabin (above) and the peisestua (left), a garden house with a fire place, were built by Hans Schaanning around 1907 after his young wife Elsa died. The peisestua is built like a Gamme (a Sami turf house). The pyramid shaped roof is clad with turf and the walls are surrounded by mounds of earth right up to the eaves on three sides. Being partially buried helps to shield the house from Norway's cold winters. Hans was an ornithologist and the peisestua was the room where he worked and reflected on life. Hans built the peisestua beside the stone where he carved Elsa’s name just before she died.

Pasvik, is best known as a nature reserve. It's a place bird watchers from all over the world visit, but people who know Hans and Elsa's story visit to see Elsa’s name carved in the stone. Perhaps to understand a little about what loosing the person you love feels like.

Natural Homes often writes about the 253 design patterns, known as the Pattern Language. These patterns help to make a place a community and a house a home. There are occasions when we think there might be a few patterns missing. This then is the first unofficial addition to the Pattern Language: No.254, ‘An Expression of Love’.

When you are building a house, or making a house a home, design something into the structure to express your feelings for the people or person you will share it with. It should be something that becomes part of the fabric of the building, and dated, so the building tells your story to the other owners that will eventually follow you. Houses should be, can be, built to last centuries and tell the story of the many generations of people who lived their lives there.


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