Aleksi Hautamäki, a spatial designer and the founder of Bond Creative Agency, and Milla Selkimäki, a graphic designer with 358, designed a set of cabins on the Finnish archipelago to serve as a retreat for themselves and their son. The dreamy property is perched on a five-acre island located along the edge of southwest Finland’s Archipelago National Park.
Although it feels like it’s worlds away, the retreat—dubbed Project Ö as a nod to the the Swedish word for "island"—is an easy 20-minute boat ride from the nearest harbor.
"The buildings pay tribute to the traditional Finnish archipelago aesthetics, with gabled roofs, long eaves, extended gutters, and vertical cladding," says Aleksi. "The cabins are long and narrow, which allows for large window surfaces with varying views, as well as possibilities for very different types of functions at the opposite ends of the building; for example, sundowner drinks with friends at one end, while the kids are sleeping in the other."
The main cabin incorporates a living space, a dining area, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a lofted sleeping area. A covered terrace for outdoor entertaining is bookended by the main living area and a neighboring structure that houses a sauna, shower, and toilet. "Every night we heat up the sauna and go swimming in the sea," says Aleksi.
Inside, a pared down aesthetic allows views of the great outdoors to take precedence. Yet the interior itself is beautiful in its simplicity.
The other cabin is home to the Helsinki-based couple’s workshop, which serves as a remote office and a space to construct various items for the island. Like the main structure, the workshop has a covered terrace in the center so the couple can embrace the North’s long summer days.
"The vision was to have all things necessary with as little space as possible," says Aleksi of the two buildings, which are just over 750 square feet total, yet can sleep 10 people comfortably. "All individual spaces have been designed to be as compact as they can without compromising functionality and comfort."
While the island retreat serves as a peaceful remote office, the couple also frequently uses it to entertain friends and family. "Often we also go explore the surrounding islands and visit neighbors. On warm days we cook outside—either in the outdoor kitchen or by smoking salmon on an open fire," says Aleksi. "On really windy or rainy days it’s more about being inside, taking naps—usually Milla cooks and I do things in the workshop."
The self-sufficient dwellings use solar power for energy and filtered sea water for drinking. The cabins have all the comforts of home with running water, flushing toilets, heating and cooling, and a fully operational kitchen. In the sauna, a traditional Finnish wood stove by Kota Luosto heats the running water and the floors throughout the home.
To integrate the cabins into their natural surroundings, the designers positioned them as close to their rocky perch as possible. Expansive decking allows the structures to literally embrace their surroundings.
"Terraces go around the building, and they ‘root’ the cabins with the surroundings," says Aleksi of the 15,000 square feet of Thermowood pine plank walkways.
The exterior of the cabins are clad in slats of Lunawood pine, with the light knotted vertical wood echoing the forested milieu. The felt-covered roofs further blend the structures into the island by mirroring the natural gray-black hardscaping of the surrounding stone.
Architect of Record: Aleksi Hautamäki, Bond Creative Agency
Builder/General Contractor: Soila Oy
Structural Engineer: Strandells El