By Megan Slack
It is perhaps inevitable that the search for the happiest home in the world begins and ends with the happiest country – Finland. The award, granted by the United Nations for its fourth consecutive year, is a result of several factors, but as we draw to the end of our Happy Homes week, we believe Finnish design deserves even more recognition.
Cue, the aptly named Project Ö – 'Ö' translating to 'an island' in Swedish – which are two secluded, stylish, and undeniably sophisticated modern homes on a rocky island in the Archipelago National Park. Designed by designer couple Aleksi Hautamaki and Milla Selkimaki, Project Ö is accessed by a flight of wooden stairs that lead from the shores of the Norrfjärden sea. Standing as wooden jewels in the crown of this 5-acre island, the 70 square meter properties include a living room, kitchen, workshop, and a sauna.
The signature long and narrow design allows for extended views across the preserved landscape and water so that you can enjoy breakfast in bed with the backdrop of your dreams. Despite its size, however, each cabin can sleep up to ten adults without compromising comfort.
'We had a limited surface area to use, and the house is located within the national park with no visible neighbors, so we wanted to maximize the visibility from inside with large windows. And the narrower the plan, the more windows we get,' shares designer Aleksi in the discussion of his architectural masterpiece.
Each cabin is also carefully curated to showcase traditional Finnish archipelago aesthetics, including long eaves and a quintessential gabled roof.
'Aesthetically, this concept of eaveless house has not been around forever, and I was a bit wary if that was more of a trend right now and how that will look in 40 years. Secondly, there are practical issues of leading the water and snow away from the building,' Aleksi adds.
See: Five interior design lessons from Finland – the happiest country in the world
While the exterior is made of thermo-pine, the fixed home decor is the work of sustainable kitchen designer Puustelli Miinusm, who created pieces to mirror the cabin's ecological ethos. Other furnishings pay homage to the swinging '60s, with original pieces from the Helsinki-based brand, Kuusilinna.
Beyond this minimalist haven, the entirety of Aleksi and Milla's island is self-sufficient. As the couple share, it uses 'solar power for energy and filtered seawater for all drinking water.'
'The houses have running water, flush toilets, heating, cooling, and a modern kitchen. Hot running water is produced with a sauna stove, and the same system provides heat to the floors,' they add.
It looks like we've found our happy place, two and a half hours from Helsinki, in the shape of Project Ö. We'll be thinking about this summer home long into the brighter months, and beyond.
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