The Principles of Nordic Architecture

Nordic design and architecture are famed for its clean and simple lines that form a very graphic and sometimes austere aesthetic. What is true about Nordic architecture is that the simplicity is the beauty of it all, it is also highly functional which utilizes modern techniques that create different spaces that originally are not obvious to the eye. All architecture responds to its location, and Nordic architecture is not different to this principal. Nordic design considers climate and location as a building has to be comfortable for the people using it. There are five main principles of Nordic design which we will cover in this blog.


Much of Nordic architecture pays attention to the unique weather and climate of its location. There are long winters which bring hour upon hour of darkness, and that means people tend to stay indoors a vast amount of the time.

Grey skies and lack of daylight mean that architects have to design in light-enhancing features such as glass roofs and large skylights which capture as much natural light that there may be. If a building is deficient of sunlight then it can cause a condition called SAD, which is unfortunately highly prevalent in polar areas. Once Nordic architects have a means of getting natural light into a building then then have to find a means of capturing it. Ways to do this are by using a very neutral color scheme utilizing colors that reflect light and therefore aid illumination. Also, many interiors use an abundance of glass which helps the light flow through the space.


A striking looking building is of little use if it is not comfortable, a big factor of any design of building in the Nordic region is what is called Hygge. Hygge is another product of people spending a great deal of time indoors, and it focuses on comfort as the main priority.

When you take this principle into design, then Hygge can be applied by adding textures and natural fabrics. It also could mean avoiding harsh light and letting in plenty of heat and ventilation. If it is used internally, Nordic architects love designing nooks and crannies and special places for relaxation. In such a harsh climate then insulation plays a major factor in comfort. Good thermal insulation keeps a building at a constant temperature and when used in conjunction with clean energy this will cut the cost of energy use and also lower the carbon footprint of the building.

Energy Efficient

The Nordic region has been at the forefront of designing buildings that are energy efficient and produce less greenhouses gases. Green alternatives are always sought after as the preferential way to design and build a building. Many Nordic laws govern buildings to be energy efficient and this does not only cover new builds. Older building also has to adhere to meet certain standards and if they do not then remedial work has to be taken to bring it up to scratch.

The final two principals of Nordic architecture are sleek shapes and for buildings to have a connection with the nature that surrounds them. Projects tend to merge with the terrain, and buildings often use materials that can be sourced locally.