The Project

Waking up to nature

At dawn, the room is filled with birdsong. The roof is not only sky blue, it is the sky! The sunlight streams between the pine trees, and beyond the foot of the bed, the lake glitters. The mattress feels as though it is hovering above the moss of the forest floor. The whole world chirps, rustles, buzzes and smells. Everything else seems distinctly inconsequential and far away. It is an extraordinary feeling to wake up both outside and snug inside at the same time.

The 72 Hour Cabin started as an initiative by Visit Sweden and the Tourist Board West Sweden. The idea was to offer nature experiences in Sweden to a foreign audience—a project that required a beautiful place and exceptional accommodation. The choice of location fell to the province of Dalsland with its magical forests, lakes, meadows and mountains.

An architect

An architect native to Dalsland, Jeanna Berger, was tasked with designing a small haven that would enhance the experience of nature. A construction company in Bengtsfors, Fridh & Hell’s Bygg AB, built a prototype in their workshop, and with the client’s approval shortly after, they built four more.

For minimal impact on the environment, the cabins are designed to stand on four wooden pillars. The pillars are made extra tall so that they can be shortened according to the contours of the ground.

‘Adapt to nature, do not adapt nature’ was the architect’s design philosophy. The idea is to leave nature as untouched as possible; the same approach to the cabins applies to those who live in them.

The first five houses were located on a private island, Henriksholm, geographically distanced and each within its own mini ecosystem. The premiere guests arrived in September 2017. As part of Visit Sweden's initiative, five people from different countries and with stressful occupations were selected to spend 72 hours in their own glass cabin, surrounded by nature. Researchers from Karolinska Institutet observed the guests to see how the stay affected their wellbeing. As bad luck had it, it rained throughout their stay, but the participants were in good spirits, energised and the outcomes of the research included significantly reduced stress levels.

Stimulating creativity

The simple design reflects an uncomplicated and stripped-down life close to nature. Every screw fulfils its function; nothing is unnecessary embellishment. It is proven that staying in nature and sleeping under the sky surrounded by trees has positive effects on our health—blood pressure decreases, stress hormones decrease, the immune system, sleep, and concentration improve, in turn stimulating creativity!

Anyone who has ever cured desk anxiety with a walk knows that nature does us good, even in small doses. The realisation that it is not only nice but that we need to go out into the wilderness for the sake of health has taken root on a broad front. As humans, our longing for nature represents a profound psychological and existential need. Our entire DNA is adapted to an organic living environment—we are not made to live our lives in front of screens or a busy urban environment.

Spending time in a 72-hour cabin provides you with an experience designed to help you wind down, allowing you to soak in the benefits of nature. Even if the cabin is placed in a small garden in a busy neighbourhood, it helps to filter out the surrounding noise and shift focus to organic nature. It doesn’t have to be a forest outside the cabin walls; the tactility of the timber, the purity of the design, and most importantly, the ever-present sky above all positively affect the mind.

Nature is everywhere—the key is finding a physical and mental space where you can be at one with yourself and find freedom in simplicity.

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