Weekend Cabin: Virrat, Finland

The longer you study this “four-cornered villa” in Virrat, Finland, the smarter and cleverer it appears. Seen from the shore of its lake (the cabin is built on a horseshoe-shaped island), the structure blends in with the dark trees that skirt its clearing, lending a stealthy environmental camoflage to the site. And conversely, when you’re on the inside looking out, the light walls serve the same role with opposite effect, capturing sunlight bouncing off the snow and reducing the visual borders between inside and outside. It’s all the same, the house seems to be saying.

It’s certainly an exercise in minimalism. The city-dwelling owners wanted a getaway that was a simple, refreshing break from urban life, and they built it with an extremely spare (though not cold) atmosphere. The walls, despite being monochromatic, have energy, with lines crossing and converging and focusing your vision in multiple directions. (If you want to practice perspective drawing, it’s a dream.) There’s no running water, heat is via wood stove (and note the Finnish sauna, of course), and electricity is solar. This is all we need, they’re saying, and they’re right.

Architect: Avanto

Photos: Kuvio

Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

{ 7 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Michael

    Why are these weekend cabins always so empty? I get that you want to clean your house before a shoot, but looking back I think I’ve only ever seen one or two cabins that had personal stuff in them. They just seem a little cold and have the opposite effect of me wanting to live in them. If I had a weekend cabin, I’d like it to be messy, stuffed with old things that don’t work, adventure books, journals, woolen stuff to stay warm and an oversized sleeping bag. And definitely a dog. A big dog.

    • steve casimiro Post author

      @Michael…that’s a great point. I think there are two things going on. First, most of the images are provided by the architectural firms who designed the cabins, and they want to put the focus on the shelter. Second, many of the cabins that are designed by architects tend to be modern or modernish, which means a less cluttered look. Ditto that many of them are in Scandinavia, where’s there’s a huge culture of a) cabins and b) simplicity.

      But there are always exceptions. This cabin in Stockholm has a fair bit of personal stuff, as well as some shots of the owner/designer. And this ski chalet in Norway has both people and their stuff.

      Finally, I agree that some of them are on the cold side and aren’t necessarily what I would choose. But in every one of these Weekend Cabins, I imagine myself in the space, either adapting to it, accepting it, or turning it into the warm and cozy retreat I picture for myself. That’s part of the fun of it.

  • Carole

    This structure is breathtakingly beautiful but… Besides not seeing a sofa or chairs how do the owners bathe or prepare food? Did I miss the bathroom?

  • Jo

    Hello, a lot of images provided for publication are taken by a professional photographer hired by the architect for promotional shots, generally these are taken [with permission] prior to the client actually occupying the homes… Especially with clients who value their privacy it’s part of the agreement with the architect. Plus from the architects perspective it makes sense so that prospective clients can overlay their own style on what they see.

  • minna

    Hi, this kind of off the grid cabin has its own charm. For our own weekends I prepare food at home and pack the food in tin foils or when in hurry, I buy tin foil packaged food. In the winter packaged food is heated over the stove in the sauna or over the fireplace or inside the fireplace. In the summertime we can prepare food in the outside fireplace.
    Instead of bathroom we have sauna in the cottage. In this Virrat – cabin there is water heater within the sauna stove. In our own cabin in Finland we have sauna room with wood burning stove, small washing up room with wood burning cauldron by Harvia.fi and small dressing area. For cooling between bathing in the sauna one can swim in the lake or chill on the terrace. We are also dreaming of a wood burning hot tub. (www.kirami.fi ). Bathing water is carried from well or from the lake.
    Toilet is outside in its own little hut. In the hut we have composting toilet by Biolan.fi

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