LocationLauttasaari, Helsinki, Finland
From the architect. It is well-known that Finns love to spend time in a cottage and amidst nature. So much so, that spending time in a cottage is possible even in the center of Helsinki. A 14 sqm cottage for the 4-person Palva architect family was recently built in Lauttasaari, only two kilometres from the family home and the parents’ work place.
“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 cottage 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 sqm city cottage is “ecological vacationing” at its best. “Because the cottage is small, its building costs are reasonable and the use of electricity is so sufficiently low that it can operate with solar energy, even though the cottage is suited for winter use” explains Jussi Palva. “And of course a localized 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 cottage tradition plays a central role in our lifestyle, you discover that preserving and increasing the number of city cottage 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 cottages decreases and the social control in park areas increases. This makes urban parks safer places for everyone.
When spending time at the Palva family cottage, you don’t get the feeling at all that you’re in the city. There’s a path leading to the sheltered cottage site that goes past a small sandy beach and there’s a view over the sea from inside the cottage. The intention is that the family will spend a generous amount of time at the cottage: 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 sqm for the 4-person family, the space has to 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 sqm 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 cottage 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 areas as well as under the raised floor.