Small But Sustainable: Finland’s Minimalist A-Frame Nolla Cabin
How often can you enjoy views this good for a mere $35 a night without sleeping in a tent? Newly available for rent on Airbnb, this Finnish gem is small but mighty with its beautifully simple A-frame design and nearly all-wood construction. Measuring just under 97 square feet, the Nolla Cabin is a zero-emissions getaway on the island of Vallisaari, which itself is located just off the coast of Helsinki. One side of the cabin’s steeply sloped roof is mirrored, and the other is covered in solar panels to help make it entirely self-sufficient.
You won’t find much more technology than that in this sweet little pine plywood cabin. Nolla’s creator, Robin Falck, envisions the mobile structure as a place where visitors can escape the chaos of modern life and all the “stuff” that goes along with it. Originally commissioned by Finnish renewable energy company Neste as part of their “Journey to Zero” campaign, the cabin demonstrates a way of living that bears a minimal carbon footprint while focusing on the joys of interacting with nature.
“One aspect that I wanted to bring to the design is movability,” says Falck. “Why tear up the surroundings and leave the environment in pieces [only] to slowly recover. Having a solution you can carry by hand to the chosen location, you can start enjoying your stay as if it has always been there — or hasn’t.”
He adds: “The cabin structures have been fastened together with screws, so it can be taken apart and put back together like a puzzle. The pedestals are adjustable so that the cabin can adapt to different kinds of terrain. In essence, there are no special parts used in building it — a replica of any part can be made from scratch by anyone, all they need is timber.”
“The culture of repairing things is disappearing, and we’re quick to buy a replacement rather than fix what we already have — but that’s not a very sustainable way of living. I find modern-day helplessness and the inability to make things with our own hands slightly scary, so I wanted to make the cabin easily repairable and thus give it an infinite number of life cycles.”
Neste sees the Nolla cabin as an experiment exploring some ways by which we can all live more sustainably. The cabin’s Wallas stove runs entirely on the company’s MY Renewable Diesel, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent and doubling as a heater.
Of course, there’s no Wi-Fi in the cabin, and you shouldn’t expect to find a shower in the nearby outhouse. Guests are instead encouraged to bathe in the nearby sea and to challenge themselves to live a zero-waste lifestyle while staying at the cabin, which means leaving all packaged foods, cosmetics, and similar items at home.
While traditional amenities may have been kept to a minimum, Neste maintains that the most important luxury is time, and the Nolla certainly has plenty of that to offer. There’s very little infrastructure on the island of Vallisaari, and the cabin is about a half-mile walk away from the nearest port, where boats deliver visitors to and from Helsinki’s city center.
Clearly, there’s no shortage of tourists eager to experience the Nolla cabin for themselves, as the rental is already fully booked through the end of December 2018.