City Cottage

It is well-known that Finns love to spend time in a cabin and amidst nature. So much so, that spending time in a cabin is possible even in the centre of Helsinki.

 A 14 m2 cabin for the 4-person Palva architect family was recently built in Lauttasaari, only two kilometres from the family home and the parents’ workplace.

“This is a way of life”, says Jussi Palva, “We wanted a place that would be easy to go to, and if necessary we could go home to take a shower or deal with urgent matters. Because our home is so close by, it’s also possible to leave unnecessary stuff at home and bring things to the cabin only when necessary.” 

A way of life that preserves nature has during the last few years become a trend in the Helsinki region among young families with children; a 14 m2 city cabin is “ecological vacationing” at its best.

“Because the cabin is small its building costs are reasonable and the use of electricity is sufficiently low that it can operate with solar energy, even though the cabin is suited for winter use” explains Jussi Palva. “And of course, a localised lifestyle where you don’t use a car or fly away on holidays is also ecological. It’s typical for Finnish cities that there are camping areas also within the city limits. When this is combined with the fact that the cabin tradition plays a central role in our lifestyle, you discover that preserving and increasing the number of city cabin areas in Finnish cities is wise town planning.”

In Jussi Palva’s opinion, a lot is achieved by including areas for this kind of use in the town plan: the environmental burden caused by the cabins decreases and the social control in park areas increases. This makes urban parks safer places for everyone.

 When spending time at the Palva family cabin, you don’t get the feeling at all that you’re in the city. There’s a path leading to the sheltered cabin site that goes past a small sandy beach and there’s a view over the sea from inside the cabin.

The intention is that the family will spend a generous amount of time at the cabin: a sign of this is that the kitchen can be turned into a homework space for the children.

“Family members can come here on their own, too, to relax and be close to nature” Jussi Palva further explains. As there is only 14 m2 for the 4-person family, the space must be divided carefully.

It’s divided into an entrance and kitchen combination, from where there’s a small step – in the Japanese fashion – to the living space and sleeping level. At the design stage the spatial arrangements of boats and caravans were carefully studied; 14 m2 is a large space if it’s furnished with fixed furniture in a similar way as in sailing boats intended for family use.

The sofas along the back wall of the cabin can easily be turned into sleeping places for three persons; the fourth sleeping place is in the loft space. There’s storage space in built-in cupboards in different places as well as under the raised floor.

Photography by Andreas Meichsner

Architecture & Design by Verstas Architects

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