April 7, 2022
These days, Scandinavian design is often associated with the beloved Danish concept of hygge, which boasts no direct translation into any other language. The design community, though, has interpreted it to encompass that coveted sense of cold-weather coziness with a Nordic-specific state of relaxation. Hygge emerged in the early days of 2016 and became an instant and long-lasting fad, but Scandinavian design represents so much more than just hygge. It was a movement that emerged in Nordic countries in the 1950s and emphasized a simplistic look: Clean lines, no unnecessary ornamentation, neutral and soothing palettes, and mostly organic materials. And no other place embraces Scandinavian Modernism quite like Sweden’s Treehotel, which will debut its Bjarke Ingels Group–designed guest room in May of this year.
Ingels himself is no stranger to uncommon projects. He recently partnered with WeWork’s former director of development Roni Bahar and Nick Chim—former head of Sidewalk’s Model Lab—on Nabr, an urban living startup that offers attainable and sustainable luxury to the masses. And now, he’s completed the Treehotel’s eighth guest room, which is essentially a suite in the sky just as the other seven rooms. All eight are the work of Scandinavian architects, including Snøhetta, Rintala Eggertsson, and Tham & Videgård Arkitekter, and all of them are different from one another.
The room BIG designed, dubbed Biosphere, is a 111-square-foot sphere whose exterior is covered in more than 350 birdhouses. The goal? For guests spending a few nights in the new Biosphere to be as fully immersed in the towering pines as possible and for wildlife to make a permanent home. In fact, offering residence to local birds was such a priority to hotel co-owners Kent Jonsson and Britta Jonsson-Lindvall, that they enlisted local ornithologist Ulf Öhman to work alongside Ingels and his team of creatives. Öhman hopes that Treehotel’s initiative may inspire guests to take action for their own local bird populations, some of which are becoming endangered every year, courtesy of climate change.
Ever the environmentalists, Jonsson and Jonsson-Lindvall opted for the faraway small village of Harads rather than Sweden’s bigger, more populated cities because it is essentially one giant, rugged forest home to quite a few bird communities. Plus, Harads enjoys four distinct seasons that massively inform the look of the village that still feels quite undeveloped in the best way, even with the presence of Treehotel. After all, Treehotel isn’t a typical resort with hundreds of rooms housed within a massive, imposing building—it’s a collection of eight guest rooms hoisted several meters above the ground. The Tham & Videgård–designed Mirrorcube, for instance, is a plywood box, accessible by a 72-foot-long bridge, wholly camouflaged by the exterior reflective glass.
Some rooms, including the InredningsGruppen-designed UFO cabin, are more modern and easier to spot amongst the trees than others, but all eight guest rooms are highly sustainable and designed to celebrate the forest. João Albuquerque, architect and partner at BIG, says that the ensuing ecological response from Biosphere was the driving force behind the architecture firm’s creative expression, and it’s easy to understand why: The new suite is just as much a temporary home for guests as it is a permanent one for birds. It’s a place for both parties—winged and not—to feel protected and at ease.
And to top it all off, Ingels designed the room with an accessible roof, where guests can take in the entirety of the forest at once. There’s hardly a better way to disconnect from the world and celebrate nature’s splendor, which is just one of Treehotel’s goals for those paying the sanctuary-like spot a visit.
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