These Self-Sufficient Island Cabins in Finland Have All the Comforts of Home
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These Self-Sufficient Island Cabins in Finland Have All the Comforts of Home

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By Marissa Hermanson
Designed for both work and play, this peaceful escape includes a traditional Finnish sauna and a workshop.

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. 

The designers’ compound is located on a 5-acre island off the coast of Finland.

The two cabins are surrounded by 15,000 square feet of Thermowood pine decking.

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 expansive pine decks root the two cabins into their rocky surroundings.

Large outdoor entertaining spaces allow the designers to enjoy the long summer days—and a hot tub and a traditional Finnish sauna make the chilly evenings cozy and fun.

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 cabinetry is made by Puustelli Miinus. "It is the most ecological kitchen out there," says AleksAleksii of the black-stained birch cabinets with bio-composite frames.

Inside the cabins, perimeter walls are constructed from log frames and dividing walls consist of Thermowood fir panels.

A cozy Bodart & Gonay tunnel stove heats the main living area. A black-and-white String pendant light by Flos adds contrast to the wood-clad room.

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.

Solar panels provide power for the two cabins.

A double bed folds down in the workshop, providing an additional place for guests to sleep.

"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."

On the other end of the house, a separate structure houses a sauna, shower, and toilet. 

A traditional Finnish wood stove by Kota Luosto heats not just the sauna, but the running water and floors throughout the cabins.

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.

Outdoor entertaining is made easy with an Outdooroven XL by Weltevree that can be used as a barbecue, smoker, and pizza oven. The custom-made cabinetry is constructed from waterproofed plywood doors and stainless steel mounts.

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 exteriors of the cabins are clad in Lunawood pine, and the roofs are covered in felt for a matte appearance.

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.

"There are various dining sets around the houses, so we can choose one that is best protected from the wind or sun," says Aleksi.

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