Inside the luxury treehouse that Polestar brought to the Finnish forest

A modern expression of the ‘less is more’ design ethos, this micropod has sustainability at its forefront

In response to the current climate crisis, concept designer Kristian Talvitie has created a stripped-back, eco-friendly living pod deep in the forest outside of Fiskars, a stronghold of Nordic design that’s situated west of Helsinki, Finland. Titled Koja – pronounced ‘koi-ya’, and meaning “hut” in Swedish – the minimalist treehouse has sustainability at the forefront, with all of its materials coming from local sources. The structure is also completely self-sufficient – it runs on solar, wind and rain power – and the idea is for it to be easy to reach for globetrotters who would otherwise travel further when wanting to immerse themselves in wild nature.

According to Polestar – the Swedish company pushing the enveloping in next-generation, electric cars and whose 2021 design contest, themed on “progress”, birthed the concept of the structure and its eventual creation – the building is made as “something that invites visitors to remember their local environment and their place within it. And in doing so, be encouraged to act regarding the unfolding emergency that is the climate crisis.”

“Why I wanted to make a tree house was to maximise the experience with as few materials as possible,” said Talvitie, who works for Ultra & Design Strategy. “Most designers look at the design from a user perspective. I also look at things from the environment’s perspective.”

The pod-style construction, accessible by a staircase, straddles a tree trunk, using it as support without causing damage, and the interior is defined by a U-shaped room, with a sleeping area and lounge, designed for two guests. The panoramic glass walls allow visitors an open, up-close view of their wooded surrounds; and the skylight also facilitates natural light to flood in, adding to the organic, at-nature feel.

With a focus on sustainability and durability, which to say eschewing materials that are too blended or synthetic, Koja is decked out in locally sourced spruce, milled close to the forest, and wool, and the exterior is done out in dark Nordic fir. While the natural finish allows the property to blend in with the surrounds, it makes a subtle statement with its dark, black finish.

The spartan style seemingly takes from Polestar’s aesthetic of futuristic refinement, and its look of a flying saucer among the trees also brings to mind John Lautner’s modernist Chemosphere house on the slopes of the Los Angeles hillside. Though once mocked as being an obnoxious vision of the future, the West Coast abode is now revered for its inspired use of hard-to-build-on land. 

A modern day expression of the design adage ‘less is more’, Koja formed part of the ‘House by an Architect’ exhibition in the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale. 

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