At first, this dark modern home in Bergen, Norway, doesn’t seem like a three-story-tall building. Under a cantilevered first floor, children run on the grass and play outside. What’s even more exciting for the kids are the swings hanging from the first floor’s ceiling in the yard. Showcasing impressive and unusual architecture, the home known as Villa S was designed by Saunders Architecture and photographed by Bent René Synnevåg.

Imagine living here and waking up every morning to the sound of birds chirping from behind bright green treetops. The dark modern home was designed by Bergen-based architect Todd Saunders for his family. The entire force of inspiring design comes into play when an architect can design without limits.

Saunders describes his family home architecture as “three sticks, stacked on top of each other.” One vertical and two horizontal elements shape the architecture imagined for this spacious family home in the suburbs of Bergen. Up a steep, narrow driveway, the first glimpse of the home stuns the viewer. Dressed in black-stained wood cladding, Villa S makes a powerful design statement.

According to the architect: “A vertical stack containing stairs and circulation is bisected by a vast horizontal beam that forms the core of the house, with the kitchen at its heart and one end supported by a generous utility area set at right angles to the main structure.

“Although it takes a single glance to understand the arrangement, the house is more complex than it first appears. Throughout the 300-square-meter floor plan, there are spatial tricks, large terraces, hidden alignments and the kind of attention to detail that only an architect could bestow on his own personal space.

With flat roofs and plenty of panoramic views, the structure of this dark modern home is set on an east-west alignment. This ensures it visually fits in with the neighborhood, and its huge windows can easily frame views of both the distant harbor city and the steep, rocky hillside.

The modern-looking neighborhood was once a rural farm, Saunders says: “The house is set among a thicket of modern villas in Tveiterås Garden City, south of Bergen city centre. Once the site of a rural farm, the suburb was laid out by pioneering local architect Leif Grung in the early 1930s. Grung’s elegant functionalism has weathered well, and the immaculately maintained plots, with their verdant planting and far-reaching views, create an oasis of calm.”

Modern architecture gave this plot of land an artistic value beyond what anyone who lived there thought was possible. The volumetric show of forces combine to shape this stunning dark modern home. Covered balconies, porches and terraces invite you outside, while the interior design tempts you to linger inside.