Thursday, September 21, 2023

Deep In a Finnish Forest, Polestar’s Sustainable Treehouse


After proving electric vehicles are the future, Polestar is taking on travel with a sustainable micro space treehouse now on display in Finland.

Venture into the forest outside of the Fiskars village in southwest Finland, and if you’re paying attention to your surroundings, you may stumble upon a Polestar design. But don’t fret if you miss it, it’s meant to camouflage into the forest. This isn’t the Swedish carmaker’s latest EV concept, though; this is Koja—the sustainable treehouse designed by Kristian Talvitie, a Finnish designer who won an honorable mention in the 2021 Polestar Design Contest.


The goal behind building Koja—which roughly translates to ‘hut’ or ‘den’—is simple, says Talvitie and Polestar: to connect travelers with nature without harming nature in the process. The sustainably built structure is attached to a tree trunk without damaging the tree. The structure was positioned in the forest to blend in with its surroundings and give its visitors a bit of what the Danish call hygge—that feeling of cozy comfort. But it may be more aptly suited to shinrin-yoku—the Japanese word for forest bathing, which is offered as a panacea for a multitude of stressors.

“Most designers look at design from a user perspective,” Talvitie said in a statement. “I also look at things from the environment’s perspective. There should be a symbiosis between the design and where it’s encountered.”

Polestar Koja treehouse
Polestar Koja treehouse exterior, courtesy

Talvitie worked closely with the Polestar Design team, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, as well as with colleagues at the Finnish design agency Ultra. The result is a treehouse that provides panoramic views that speak to Polestar’s values.

“We were fascinated by the idea and how it translates our brand values into a different environment. That was key for us, and we were so impressed that we decided to build it,” stated Polestar head of design, Maximilian Missoni.

Nature immersion

Koja isn’t the first sustainable treehouse design in the Nordic countries. Earlier this year a new hotel room dubbed the Biosphere opened up among the pine trees in the Swedish Harads forest. It’s the eighth treehouse by Treehotel. Biosphere is covered in 350 birdhouses to help support the forest’s biodiversity.

I got to spend a few days and nights in some of the Treehotel rooms right before the pandemic, and left with a sense of rejuvenation from complete immersion into nature,” BIG Founder and Creative Director, Bjarke Ingels, said in a statement.

“I couldn’t help wondering if there was a way to take the immersion one step further— and almost instantly the idea of inviting not only the human visitors but also the resident bird and bat population to cohabit a spherical swarm of nests came to life. After our first conversations with Ulf Öhman from Norrbotten Ornithological Association we were relieved to learn that birds don’t drop where they nest—so there is hope for the glass to remain clear within this cloud of aviary architecture.” 

A growing number of hotels and resorts are looking for more ways to embrace and even immerse guests in nature. Six Senses is currently working on opening the world’s first energy-positive hotel in the world in Norway. Svart, located on the Svartisven glacier, is intended to “push boundaries,” according to Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs.

“The concept has become bigger than the project itself, as it will provide a futuristic showcase for what can be achieved in terms of sustainability and energy solutions, and therefore a blueprint within our hospitality industry and the development sector in general,” Jacobs said in a statement in April.


Polestar says it is determined to “improve the society we live in, using design and tech to accelerate the change to sustainable, electric mobility.”

Polestar Koja treehouse
Polestar Koja treehouse, courtesy

The company is currently working on what it says will be the world’s first climate-neutral car, expected to be operational by 2030. Polestar says it will be a fully climate-neutral company by 2040. “Our goal is to build sustainable electric cars and to help create a sustainable society.”

The Koja house is on display as part of the “House by an Architect” exhibit at the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale, which features seven homes in total. It’s on display through September.


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