You might not expect an electric carmaker to design and build a treehouse, but Polestar is determined to expand its brand into new territory, translating its values and aesthetics to projects other than vehicles. “KOJA” by Kristian Talvitie is one of three winners of the 2021 Polestar Design Contest, which challenged designers to “design a Polestar that would advance society progression [and] display new ways of thinking that would encourage positive change in society, including responses to the ongoing climate crisis.” Talvitie’s submission, which won Honorable Mention, has now been brought to life in southwestern Finland.
Set on the grounds of Fiskars, an art and design hub, the KOJA treehouse has been realized in 1:1 scale for the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale. Made of sustainable materials like wood and wool, the treehouse captures Polestar’s design language and planet-protecting values, “symbolizing a shift in both the way we use materials and the way we define a space,” as the brand explains.
Designer Kristian Talvitie was inspired to create a structure that allowed people to immerse themselves in nature without traveling far. The idea is that while it’s important to make the technologies we use to travel more sustainable, it’s also important for everyone to travel less in order to respond to the climate crisis. The treehouse nestles up into a tree canopy, which can be located virtually anywhere — even in a backyard, or a public park in a major city. That makes the experience of relaxing among the branches more accessible, reducing the need to intrude upon the wilderness.
The design is a black capsule with a nearly 360-degree ribbon of glass along the facade, granting occupants sweeping views of their surroundings. Stairs at the back grant access, and inside, visitors will find a bench wrapped around the tree trunk, essentially turning it into a sculptural focal point. Padded benches and work surfaces also line the interior walls. The roof is made of glass, too, so you can look up and gaze at the stars. This modern treehouse is made of locally sourced materials to help it blend in with its environment but has a futuristic aesthetic, demonstrating that sustainable design can be sleek and interesting, too.
“It’s amazing how well it embodies our brand values,” says Martin Österberg, Head of Marketing for Polestar Finland. “It’s beautiful in its simplicity, and the fact that it’s made from locally sourced spruce really emphasizes our focus on sustainability. We think we found the perfect home for it here at the Biennale.”
KOJA wasn’t the only sustainable micro-house displayed at the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale. As part of the exhibit “House by an Architect,” it joins six other mini-homes which are available for rent through Airbnb. KOJA will remain open to the public through September.
The two other winning designs of the 2021 Polestar Design Contest are “Glad to Be Dirty” by Mingwei Liu in the Student category and “Polestar H_UB” by David Vultaggio in the Professional category. The former is a small, geometric car which an architectural take on Polestar’s design vocabulary that actively filters dirty air as it goes, “allowing the user to feel proud of driving a dirty car.”
The H_UB is both a brand experience center and a place to hang out while charging your Polestar vehicle, which generates its own electricity and produces hydrogen from a biomass roof. The design is “a comprehensive reimagining of what once might have been called a garage.”