Earlier this fall, Stockholm-based medical university Karolinska Institutet posed a question: "Is it possible to reduce stress during 72 hours in Swedish nature?" As an experiment, they invited five people with stressful jobs—including an American events coordinator, a French cab driver, and a German police officer—to go off the grid for three days in custom-made glass cabins on Henriksholm Island in western Sweden. The findings were as they hoped: researchers saw a 70 percent decrease of stress in the participants. And now, the 72 Hour Cabins have opened up as holiday retreats to the general public.
Launched by Visit Sweden, the cabins and the stress study could be easily written off as a tourism board gimmick—but they shouldn’t. The tiny glass cabins tap into a growing need to disconnect from a tech-driven world. To give the structures a true sense of place, the cabins were built of locally-sourced materials and designed by Jeanna Berger, daughter of the owners of Henriksholm, a privately-owned, three-mile-long island in western Sweden.
Jeanna, an architecture student, drew inspiration for the 72 Hour Cabins’ simple gabled forms from the barns dotting the Dalsland countryside. "I was raised on Henriksholm and I wanted to somehow pay homage to typically Dalsland nature settings," she said. "From the very beginning I decided that the house would stand on pillars so that it did not leave a permanent footprint on the environment. I also like to think that the people who will live in them share the same approach to nature."
Jeanne’s brother-in-law Jonas Fred Hell and his colleague Robert Fridh from Fridh & Hells Bygg AB construction built the cabins in just five weeks and positioned them for optimal lakeside views.
The raised timber-framed cabins were constructed from untreated planks of Norway Spruce, an evergreen native to Henriksholm. Boards were set a few millimeters apart to facilitate ventilation. Large glass panes covered three walls and the gabled roof; no curtains encourage guests to sync their sleep schedules with the sun.
The minimalist, compact interior—only enough room for a bit of storage, a comfortable bed, and lantern—prompts guests to be as active as possible during daylight hours. No light pollution and a glass roof allow for stunning views of the stars at night. The five 72 Hour Cabins can be booked online for summer 2018.
"The beauty of the glass cabins is that you don’t feel like you’re pulling a curtain between you and the wilderness," said Ben Fogle, a British broadcaster and one of the five participants of the original study. "You’re still a part of nature."
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