10 architecture projects that prove black is the new black

Blackened wood is an ever-popular choice of material for architects in recent times. Here are 10 of the most eye-catching examples, including a nine-square-metre Muji Hut and a tar-coated Californian ski chalet.


Residential Architecture: Trollhus by Mork Ulnes in California, USA

Troll Hus, USA by Mork-Ulnes Architects

Mork-Ulnes Architects clad this five-bedroom ski cabin in California in tar-coated timber and placed it on a concrete plinth to protect it from hazardous weather. The project’s name, “Troll Hus” plays on Scandinavian folklore, in which trolls are said to dwell in remote mountains.

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Sleeve House by A/O

The Sleeve House, USA, by Actual/Office Architects

Two nested volumes wrapped with black wooden screens make up this vacation home in New York’s Hudson River Valley by Actual/Office Architects. The two-storey structure was created as a countryside retreat for art-collectors.

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Floating sauna by Small Architecture Workshop

Milan-based studio Small Architecture Workshop self-built this floating sauna with a blackened-wood exterior in Åmot, Sweden for a Belgian couple who own a bed and breakfast hotel in the same forest.

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Dutch studio FillieVerhoeven Architects has completed a house near Rotterdam featuring an asymmetric gabled form clad entirely in blackened timber.

Villa SG21, Netherlands, by FillieVerhoeven Architects

Created for clients who desired a bold and minimalist aesthetic, this monolithic house near Rotterdam features an asymmetric gabled form clad entirely in blackened timber. The living area is lined with what the architects claim is “probably the largest sliding door ever made in a residential house in Holland”.

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Hotel Bühelwirt by Pedevilla Architects

Bühelwirt Hotel, Italy, by Pedevilla Architects

This six-storey extension for Bühelwirt Hotel, which is situated in northern Italy, comprises a blackened-timber volume with jutting windows to create views of the nearby mountains. Pedevilla Architects addition included 20 new rooms, a spa and an expansion of the existing restaurant.

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Michigan Lake House by Desai Chia Architects

Michigan Lake House, United States, Desai Chia Architecture

New York firm Desai Chia Architects built this cantilevered house on Lake Michigan with blackened timber walls made from dying ash trees found on site, scorched using a traditional Japanese technique called shou sugi ban.

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Muji Huts

The Muji hut, by Muji

Muji revealed this nine-square-metre prefabricated house made entirely from blackened Japanese wood in 2017. The ¥3,000,000 (£20,989) cabin is designed to suit a wide variety of locations, acting as a permanent residence and a holiday home.

Find out more about The Muji Hut ›


Treehouse, UK, by Scott Kyson

Founder of London-based Studio Kyson, Scott Kyson, designed this small garden pavilion as a playhosue for his three children aged between four and eight. Named Treehouse, the open-top project is covered in sheets of reflective glass and lined with charred larch.

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Peter Zumthor's visitor facilities at a historic mine in Norway

Allmannajuvet visitor facilities, Norway, by Peter Zumthor

Designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, these visitor facilities located on a tourist trail at a historic mine in Norway are made up of a black box supported by an encasing wood structure with a corrugated zinc roof top.

Find out more about Allmannajuvet visitor facilities ›


Garden Studio Gym by Eastwest Architecture

The Garden Studio Gym, UK, by Eastwest Architecture

Eastwest Architecture built this charred-cedar clad sunken gym in the garden of a London homeowner disappointed by the lack of local exercise facilities. The contrasting birch-lined interior features equipment for boxing and skipping.

Find out more about The Garden Studio Gym ›

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