Nordic Architecture and Design – Finland
NORDIC ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN – FINLAND Mini Theme:
Left: K2S Architects, Ylivieska Church 2021. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo. Right: JKMM Architects, Kirkkonummi Library 2020. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo.
Architecture in tune with nature
Finnish architecture is usually known for its closeness to nature. The reasons for this are a low population density and late urbanisation, which is why people still know to live with northern nature and the use of local resources, such as wood, as a building material.
By Kristo Vesikansa, editor-in-chief of Finnish Architectural Review, in collaboration with the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA)
This tradition offers Finnish architects good conditions for pursuing carbonneutral construction, although its potential has not yet been fully exploited. In any case, timber construction has increased its popularity, and the Wood City, designed by Anttinen Oiva Architects, shows that it can even be used to build high-rise residential and office complexes in the centre of Helsinki.
Many architects today think that, instead of complex technical systems, the path to sustainable architecture can be found in traditional building techniques. For example, K2S architects have designed a new church in Ylivieska with solid masonry walls, timber roof trusses and natural ventilation. The steep-roof exterior references medieval parish churches, while natural light fills the interior in a way similar to that in modernist sacral buildings.
The pursuit of sustainability has made conserving, reusing and transforming existing buildings an increasingly important part of architects’ work. This is indicated by the fact that the Architecture Finlandia Award has been given to such a project three years in a row. The most recent winner is the Kirkkonummi Library by JKMM Architects, where the old building was wrapped inside a copper-plated extension.
Anttinen Oiva Architects, Wood City, Helsinki 2021. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo Web: www.safa.fi
Left: Illustration of an ongoing land-use plan for an ecological semi-urban settlement in Finland. The wooden housing design is a collaboration between Tommila and Kaleidoscope, the overall plan being by Tommila Architects. Illustration: KVANT-1. Right: The prefabricated CLT ‘building set’ of repetitive elements is efficient and economical. Digital fabrication allows for playfulness of form within the framework of the CNC machine. The design explores three-dimensional expressions, creating the new identity of the area. Illustration: KVANT-1.
Thinking beyond architecture
Since its foundation in 1984, Tommila Architects Ltd, based in Finland, has been at the forefront of Nordic innovation by combining the practices of traditional architectural design with urban design. Today, they partner with Norwegian firm Kaleidoscope Nordic. With the collaboration, the companies want to be a driving force for change in the Nordics.
Tommila Architects is a multidisciplinary team with a wide-ranging skillset. Part of their strength comes from the team’s varied backgrounds that enable them to cater to a range of needs and better understand different viewpoints. “We always aim to meet the ever-changing and increasingly complex needs of today’s society,” says Miia-Liina Tommila, the architecture firm’s CEO, and daughter of the company’s founder, Mauri Tommila.
The architecture firm’s extensive portfolio showcases talent and innovative thinking by combining architecture, urban and ecological design, as well as construction. Their aim is to deliver fresh, inspiring and sustainable solutions that meet the needs of people, business and environment.
Some of Tommila Architects’ most notable recent projects include transformation of the Arabia135 quarter in Helsinki, a historically industrial city block that today houses the Metropolia University of Applied Science and the Pop and Jazz Conservatory creative campus. The campus is an excellent example of functional design, as it needs to also cater to possible future evolution of educational needs. “As with all our projects, userfriendliness is key, so we worked in close collaboration with the users in coming up with new solutions,” Tommila explains. In collaboration with the users, Tommila Architects designed Soiva – meaning resonant or musical – which is a building for making music, also part of the Arabia creative campus. Tommila Architects and Kaleidoscope Nordic sketched together the architectural concept of the music house that encourages casual meetings and a sense of communality among the occupants. The window configuration alludes to the medieval musical notation, giving identity to Soiva.
The project itself was quite challenging, due to space constraints in the tightlybuilt factory quarter, as well as having to come up with new, versatile uses of the space that cater to evolving training needs. “We considered the users’ needs in this project, too, and decided to create music tuition rooms for versatile acoustic needs rather than different instruments, enabling high spatial efficiency, for example. We also designed several monitoring and editing rooms, which are clustered
Left: The Arabia Creative campus brings new creative life to old factory spaces and reveals the rational concrete framework of the original building. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo. Middle: The spacious atrium of Soiva fills with natural light and caters for social encounters, and the rhythm of the facade continues in the interior spaces. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo. Right: Project by Kaleidoscope. Illustration of a vision for the future of Ulsteinvik in Norway. At the core of the project is an energy-efficient smart grid system. The photovoltaic ‘SmartPERGOLA’ modules create sheltered meeting places and generate energy. Illustration: KVANT-1. Bottom: Project by Kaleidoscope. Dolvik is a housing project with focus on prefabricated wood construction and a re-interpretation of traditional Nordic framework architecture. Illustration: KVANT-1.
around recording spaces so that they can be used simultaneously in various combinations, which is ground-breaking in pedagogy,” Tommila states.
Creating environments that are good for people and nature In a venture aiming to be a driving force for fresh, Nordic architecture, Tommila is collaborating with Kaleidoscope, an architecture firm based in Bergen. Kaleidoscope was born in 2014, after Tommila’s studies in Norway, when she and her fellow colleagues entered the architectural competition Europan12 and won first prize for their proposal, named Kaleidoscope. Since then, the company has grown in numbers, and Kaleidoscope is now an eight-strong team of architects. Together, Kaleidoscope and Tommila Architects have a joint strategy, where the companies are harnessing the extensive knowledge between the two teams. “We have a lot in common, but it’s our differences that are our main inspiration. We have an investigative, curious and empathetic approach, which ensures we understand the true needs of people, business and the environment,” says Tommila. Tommila Architects and Kaleidoscope are also involved with product development relating to circular economy in Norway.
Kaleidoscope and Tommila Architects’ speciality is using wood in architecture. Recently, the two firms joined forces and entered an invited competition at Kerava Housing Fair in Finland to design an innovative wooden apartment building. “Our planet’s resources are already overused, so we feel compelled to do what we can to use sustainable solutions and renewable materials in our designs. We want to be at the forefront of bringing new materials to architectural design,” Tommila explains.
The company is committed to being a part of inclusive, participatory urban development. With Kaleidoscope, Tommila Architects are part of Nordic Works collective, which specialises in user-orientated and participatory urban planning for municipalities, businesses and communities. “Somewhere along the way, humans have become disconnected from nature. Whether it’s by maximising natural light in our designs, or carefully considering our building materials, we aim to create harmonious and inspiring environments that are good for people and nature,” she adds.
It is evident that Tommila Architects wants to shape a better future, and be a driving force in pushing change forward. “As architects, we have a duty to come up with solutions that leave meaningful marks on the environment we live in,” the CEO concludes.
Web: www.tommilaarchitects.com www.kaleidoscopenordic.com Instagram: @tommilaarchitects @kaleidoscopenordic
Innovative high-quality face masks
When the first waves of Covid-19 washed over Norway and the country closed down, protective gear was high in demand and short in supply. When the Norwegian government sent out a message asking for help, innovative minds in Sykkylven heeded the call, created the company InnoVern, and immediately started producing high-quality face masks.
The Covid-19 pandemic took the world by surprise as it spread across continents through the end of 2019 and early 2020. Unprepared, with very little stock in terms of protective gear, Norwegian hospitals and health institutions were struggling to provide their staff with the security needed in an unprecedented situation. Import of equipment from other countries was restricted and took too long, and the necessary quality couldn’t be ensured.
When the Norwegian government asked for help from domestic companies who might produce equipment locally, Sykkylvenbased company InnoVern was founded. “There is a large innovative and creative industry community in Sykkylven,” says CEO Grethe Loe. “So when the country locked down and the borders closed, founder Lars Einar Riksheim gathered the necessary people and in a matter of weeks hired staff, assembled suppliers and production equipment and started the production of surgery-grade face masks.”
20 million face masks for Norwegian hospitals InnoVern, becoming Norway’s first specialised factory producing surgical face masks, was officially opened in November 2020. The factory was opened by then Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who stated: “InnoVern is doing a very important job, and deserves heartfelt thanks and a big applause.”
The company’s first order was for 20 million face masks for use in Norwegian hospitals – but InnoVern’s work won’t stop once the pandemic ends. A national health preparedness plan aims to make sure that Norway will never be as unprepared again, and InnoVern, which today has 14 employees, is looking towards the future, in terms of both production and the actual product. Its goal: developing
surgical face masks as safe and comfortable as possible.
Developing innovative and sustainable high-quality masks Surgical-grade face masks typically come in two different grades. Type II is less secure but easier to breathe through. Type IIR, the splash-resistant and most secure type, is harder to breathe in due to its density and material. Now InnoVern has managed to combine the level of security of Type IIR with the breathability of Type II, ensuring that the wearer gets enough oxygen and comfort throughout the day. The new face mask, named InnoVern Duo, has already been tested and CE-approved as both Type II and Type IIR. This, in turn, eliminates errors that can occur when users are confused by the Type II and Type IIR labelling – confusion that can increase the risk of infection for the wearer. Another aspect of producing face masks locally as opposed to importing them is sustainability. Producing the goods locally using Norwegian and European suppliers reduces emissions and improves stability in terms of delivery. Automating the production process to the fullest extent effectively cuts down material waste, and InnoVern continually cooperates with suppliers on developing more sustainable raw materials. In addition, InnoVern is an inclusive company, hiring and training immigrants and offering language courses for its employees. Emphasising diversity, it’s also gender-conscious and aims to have a workforce of both old and young employees.
But not only hospitals and health institutions need face masks. Athletes are among those who will continue to wear infection protection in the future and need face masks that are secure and easy to breathe in. InnoVern was recently announced as the official supplier of face masks to Olympiatoppen, an organisation that is part of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports, responsible for training Norwegian elite athletes. This contract not only ensures a continuous flow of products to Olympiatoppen, but also deliveries earmarked for the Olympic Games. This means that the Norwegian athletes will be using face masks from InnoVern during the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the 2024 Paris Olympics, the Paralympics, and several Youth Olympics Games.
Top left: InnoVern was opened by then Prime Minister Erna Solberg, here with founder Lars Einar Riksheim (left) and production manager Mathias Grebstad (right). Bottom: CEO Grethe Loe, production manager Mathias Grebstad and purchasing manager May Lisbeth Riksheim. Web: www.innovern.no
“The InnoVern Duo face mask is notably easier to breathe in and improves my working day.”
“I think InnoVern Duo face masks have a very good fit, and that they’re comfortable to wear, while simultaneously being easy to breathe in. This is important since I wear face masks pretty much all day long at work.”
Left: Mendel’s, a luxury French pastry shop in Oslo, received a delicious new look. Right: The right colour scheme supports a brand’s communication.
Top: A stylish annual report for Stingray, who offer technological solutions for the fishing industry. Bottom: Bruse is a fibre broadband and smart-home provider, the brand name and visual identity of which April Design developed.
Design Studio of the Month, Norway Design for growth
April Design, an Oslo-based design agency, approaches all of its projects with the same purpose: helping others express what they are about as clearly and efficiently as possible – and with plenty of passion.
When asked what April Design is all about, business partners Catharina H. Wedel and Marianne Spernes quickly settle on two words: quality and passion. The pair, who set up their joint venture in 2015, have been working together for almost ten years.
April Design covers the entire spectrum of brand building, from logos and visual identity to brand names and design for various products in print, digital and packaging. “We are passionate about good design in all its forms,” Wedel says. “As designers, we see the role of an agency as a partner, not just a supplier.”
What does that mean in practice? Working hand in hand with the clients’ decision makers. “Often a new name or new design is a strategic move to show that a company is changing. Our approach involves getting a thorough understanding of the business, but also of why they want change,” Wedel and Spernes explain. “We love to dig into the client’s DNA to discover elements to work with.”
Sometimes even small adjustments can have a big impact. Spernes mentions how simply updating a company logo can instantly bring it from 2001 to today – and show that it’s ready for the future. The designer-founders have an international background; Spernes was educated in the UK and has worked in Milan, and Wedel studied in Los Angeles, giving them a different perspective on Nordic design. “We would say that it’s efficient and clean, not because Nordic people are minimalists but because we want to express ourselves precisely.”
While both Spernes and Wedel enjoy working with visual identity, “we don’t have dream projects, we have dream clients. As long as we can challenge ourselves, we are satisfied. And whoever we are working with, we want to help the clients communicate their values and vision through design.”
Web: aprildesign.no Facebook: April Design Instagram: @aprildesignoslo LinkedIn: April Design AS
Museum of the Month, Denmark The gruesome yet fascinating history of witch hunts in Denmark and Europe
HEX! Museum of Witch Hunt is located in the heart of historic Ribe. The museum focuses on one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history. In Denmark alone, around 1,000 people were brutally killed for practising witchcraft. Ribe was a major centre for the witch trials in Denmark, and you can still witness the magic and folklore around the city. acquitted. But the king took control of the trial, and Maren was eventually executed as a gruesome witch. Later, her name was cleared, and she is now viewed as a great heroine,” says Lindgaard.
The museum primarily uses audio and visual storytelling, making it suitable for everyone, although it is advised that young children do not visit the museum due to the darkness of the theme.
HEX! Museum of Witch Hunt is one of the first museums, not just in Denmark but in Europe, with a dedicated focus on witch hunts. The hunts escalated in Denmark after 1617, when King Christian IV prohibited all forms of magic. At this point, not only black but also white magic was seen as a crime, and all Danes had a responsibility to raise trials. “This helped the witch trials explode. In the following eight years, a witch was burned every five days,” explains Louise Hauberg Lindgaard, historian at HEX! Museum of Witch Hunt.
But despite witch hunts being an important part of history, there are still many myths surrounding these horrifying years. “Many people believe that only women were burned, while in fact ten per cent of the executed witches in Denmark were men, and in all of Europe the number is about 20 or 25 per cent,” says Lindgaard. Another myth is that the church was behind the witch hunts. But in Denmark, it was in fact the common people and the nobility that started the trials. “While the elite feared a pact with the devil as the source of magical powers, common folks concentrated on the misfortunes of daily life. But both saw witchcraft as a horrible threat,” explains Lindgaard.
HEX! is located in the old renaissance centre of Ribe, which is infamous for its many witch trials. Ribe was also home to the best-known Danish witch trial against Maren Spliids, who was burned in 1641. “Her case was completely atypical; she was well off and respected, and actually
Web: www.hexmuseum.dk Facebook: HEX Museum of Witch Hunt Instagram: @hexmuseum
Experience of the Month, Denmark A stepping stone to nature
Back in June, Thy National Park opened the doors to its brand-new Thy National Park Centre, located in Nr. Vorupør. The purpose of the centre is to connect the coastal village with nature and inspire guests to go for a hike in Denmark’s greatest wilderness.
Thy National Park Centre is a stepping stone to vast coastal dunes and heathlands, limestone slopes, the Atlantic Wall, deserted villages and clear lakes – quite literally. “We purposefully created two doors when building Thy National Park Centre: one that connects the centre to the village, and one that connects the centre to nature,” explains Else Østergaard Andersen, head of Thy National Park.
Thy National Park covers 244 square kilometres and stretches along the coast of north-west Jutland. Here, you can experience some of Denmark’s wildest and most unspoilt nature. If you are lucky, you might spot some red deer, cranes and otters while exploring the wilderness.
“The forces of nature are strong here, and humans have been unable to control nature in this part of the country. Everything you see in the park is shaped
A royal urge to explore The centre opened on 15 June and, since then, 60,000 guests have visited the centre, including Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II, who visited in August. The purpose of the centre is to get more people to explore the surrounding nature.
“Many guests are unfamiliar with what the park has to offer and what you can experience here. The centre is a place to get information, ask questions and learn what Thy National Park has to offer,” explains Østergaard Andersen.
In the newly built centre, you will find a 12.5-metre-long reconstruction of the national park. This gives a good impression of the park, and you will without a doubt then get an urge to explore the wilderness. Furthermore, a film plays above the reconstruction so that you can listen to short stories about the park. On the back wall, you’ll find information about the kinds of plants and the wildlife you can expect to encounter in the park: heathlands, unspoilt dunes, small lakes and much more.
Finally, when visiting Thy National Park Centre, you’ll always be able to meet the passionate local volunteers who can tell you everything you need to know about their beloved Thy National Park, making your trip there one to remember.
Opening hours: February to April: 12-4pm daily May to September: 10am to 5pm daily October to 22 December: 12-4pm daily 23 December to January: Closed
Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
Web: www.nationalparkthy.dk Facebook: Nationalpark Thy
Experience of the Month, Faroe Islands Experience magical landscapes and a lively culture on the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are known for wild weather, fermented foods and a landscape that takes your breath away. Heimdal Tours can show you everything the Faroe Islands have to offer. Whether you wish to see the lush greenery by foot or by car, you’ll be astonished by its beauty. And, naturally, you also have to taste the traditional winddried, fermented lamb and other local foods before leaving.
Heimdal Tours offers customised trips and activities for individuals and small groups of up to nine people. Whether you wish to explore the magnificent nature of the Faroe Islands on a hike, you prefer to enjoy the stunning views from a car, you’re visiting only to taste the traditional food, or you wish to experience the landscape from the seaside, Heimdal Tours can make it happen.
“We offer a myriad of activities. Visitors can go on both longer and shorter hikes, and if you for one reason or another are unable to hike, we also offer sightseeing trips where we drive you around. Some visitors book an activity for just one day, while others prefer that we schedule activities during their entire stay on the Faroe Islands,” says Tummas Rubeksen, director of Heimdal Tours. Moreover, Heimdal Tours offers tours on small fishing boats, kayaking, and local food experiences. The Faroe Islands have a rich food culture, which is a must to experience. Whether you wish to do so in a restaurant or visit locals in their homes and dine with them, Heimdal Tours can make it all possible.
“The most important thing to us is that we can give people a personal and customised experience, while being sustainable. That’s why we exclusively do tours in small groups. We don’t want to take up too much space or be too dominating in the landscape,” explains Rubeksen.
This also means that you as a visitor get to fully immerse yourself in the culture and truly soak up the breathtaking nature. The landscape on the Faroe Islands is like no other place on Earth. It’s a landscape of contrasts: lush greenery, valleys, deep-blue sea, steep cliffs and mountains. The Faroe Islands also have a rich bird life, with puffins probably the most popular among visitors.
“There are so many nature experiences here, and you are very close to the elements,” says Rubeksen.
Web: www.heimdaltours.com Facebook: Heimdal Tours SP/f
Attraction of the Month, Denmark
Left: Danish dinner services. Karen Kjældgård Larsen’s reinterpretation of a classic pattern revitalised Royal Copenhagen in 2000. Right: Vase with Frogbit, Effie Hegermann-Lindencrone, 1898. Bottom: From the exhibition Natur,Spor &Spejlinger. Photo: Malene Hartmann Rasmussen
Telling the story of Danish culture through CLAY
The largest ceramics museum in the Nordics, and with a strong international profile, CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark offers an enviably large collection representing the country’s cultural heritage.
As a relatively young museum, at 26 years, CLAY, which is located in Middelfart on Fünen, continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Originally opened in 1994, the museum’s profile was boosted dramatically in 2010, when it was the recipient of a substantial donation from Royal Scandinavia, consisting of 60,000 pieces. The historical collection originates in the country’s three renowned companies: Royal Copenhagen, Bing & Grøndahl and Aluminia.
“The donation marked the beginning of a significant development in the museum and brought a twenty-fold increase in the collection,” says museum director Pia Wirnfeldt.
“It is Denmark’s ceramic heritage that has been gifted to us, and it has made us the largest museum for ceramic art, crafts and design in the Nordics.” This addition to the collection also led to an extension of the building in Middelfart. Ceramics is an artform with deep, strong and proud traditions in Denmark. “We have a real tradition of ceramics because of all the clay in our subsoil, and we have used it for both functional pieces and art,” adds Wirnfeldt.
While it is practically impossible to exhibit 60,000 pieces at once, the main exhibition of CLAY, named Skattekammeret – or ‘the Treasury’ – shows off 1,000 pieces at any time. In addition to this permanent collection, there are three platforms dedicated to temporary exhibitions. “What we offer at CLAY is this historical collection that we apply different perspectives to,” explains Wirnfeldt. “We invite contemporary artists to work in conjunction with and take inspiration from the large historical collection to create new pieces.”
Currently, three ceramic artists, among them the international profile Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, come together in an exhibition, named Nature. Traces & Reflections, which runs until 13 March 2022.
Another exhibition documents the rich cultural heritage and reflects the sociocultural development in Denmark represented by Danish dinner services. This exhibition, Danish Dinner Services – from Delightful Flowers to Raw Glazes, sees 20 dinner services, selected from the Royal Copenhagen Collection, and shows the history of the dinner and coffee services through pieces made of porcelain, stoneware and faience.
A boost in the visitor numbers means that, next year, work will commence on another architectural extension. “It is another exciting development, and it will help us present even the biggest names in ceramics to our visitors,” concludes Wirnfeldt.
Photo: Michael Kortbek
Holiday Profile of the Month, Denmark Mindful team-building exercises in serene nature
Nestled between the North Sea and lush greenery, Feriecenter Slettestrand offers a myriad of outdoor activities ranging from mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding to mindfulness exercises, forest bathing and campfire cooking. The familyowned holiday centre is the perfect place to host seminars and conferences, and the activities are designed to bring your team closer together.
Too often, conferences and seminars involve endless hours of boring PowerPoint slides. By the end of the day, you probably have more doodles than notes in your notebook, and you need a good dose of caffeine to get through the last few slides. Fortunately, there are alternatives to this more traditional approach. Business events can be both educational and fun, bringing teams closer together and strengthening the work community. “At Feriecenter Slettestrand, we believe that by switching the office landscape for time in nature, the brain starts adapting and we change the way we work together. Time in nature with your colleagues provides a completely new and different context, which will strengthen the workplace as a whole,” says Kristian Skjødt, director at Feriecenter Slettestrand. “By participating in various activities in nature, colleagues learn new strategies and explore new ways of working together, which can later be applied to the workplace. Here, everyone can be a part of the outdoor activities, and everyone has a fantastic experience.”
At Feriecenter Slettestrand, they offer a wide range of team-building activities, suitable for everyone. You will not be asked to jump into rivers, climb a tree or take part in other extreme team-building exercises. The goal is to give you a good time in the great outdoors, so that you can experience the huge impact of nature on your well-being and develop a closer bond to your co-workers.
Break down the barriers in nature The magical, healing effect of nature becomes truly apparent when taking part in mindfulness exercises under the
Photo: Jens Thimm Valsted Photo: Daniel Villadsen
guidance of Feriecenter Slettestrand’s certified eco-therapist. This can involve using stones, leaves, soil and other items found in nature to get to know yourself better.
You can also experience forest bathing, a Japanese practice to help you relax. The method is simple: it is about being calm and quiet among the trees, and observing nature around you while breathing deeply. The practice is known to help destress and to boost health and well-being in a natural way. “Something happens to humans when we spend time in nature. We become more open-minded and less defensive. The barriers are being broken down,” reflects Skjødt.
Feriecenter Slettestrand also has some of the best mountain bike instructors in Europe, and the trails in the area are phenomenal, making it a great team activity. It doesn’t need to be a wild or daring ride. Anyone who can ride a bike can join in, and your guide will ensure that everyone has a good time.
If mountain biking is not your thing, there are plenty of other activities available. You could enjoy a gentle horseback ride through the forest to the beach, or go on a guided hike – both excellent ways to take in the dramatic scenery of the Danish west coast. A dip in the sea followed by a sauna experience can be an activity of its own, or make the perfect end to an active day. “The nature in this area is fantastic, and there are so many activities you can try as a team. We take great pride in the fact that we have activities for every company, every team and every person,” says Skjødt.
Socially and environmentally responsible After all the team-building activities, you will probably have a bit of a rumbling belly. Luckily, the dining options at Feriecenter Slettestrand are plenty, and can even be part of your team-building experience. A foraging trip to gather wild ingredients that the team then uses to prepare dinner over a campfire is one extremely popular group activity. Alternatively, the restaurant serves delicious, home-cooked meals, made primarily from local, seasonal and, where possible, organic ingredients.
“Sustainability is important to us – not just when it comes to being green, but also when it comes to being socially responsible. Therefore, we also have a residence for people with disabilities, who work alongside us and help take good care of our guests,” says Skjødt.
Feriecenter Slettestrand is also a popular destination for families and groups of friends on holidays, and they have some of Denmark’s most accessible facilities for people with disabilities. “Feriecenter Slettestrand is for everyone. Here, you can come exactly as you are,” says Skjødt.
Web: www.slettestrand.dk Facebook: Feriecenter Slettestrand Instagram: @feriecenter_slettestrand
Photo: Jens Thimm Valsted Photo: Kristian Skjødt
Hotel of the Month, Faroe Islands An uninterrupted stay in unspoiled, peaceful surroundings
Enjoy a freshly brewed cup of world-class coffee, wrap yourself in a big, fluffy robe after relaxing in the hot tub, and wake up to a delicious breakfast made from local ingredients. Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948 offers guests an exquisite stay, and you will leave feeling recharged, at peace and grounded. The boutique hotel has a rich history worth exploring, too, when you’re not gazing at the ocean or enjoying some tasty treats.
Located by the sea on Úti við Strond, only a stone’s throw from the historic fort Skansin and within easy walking distance to Tórshavn town, you’ll find the Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948, a boutique hotel with an emphasis on attention to personal service, and where the staff always go the extra mile for their guests. Almost all 14 rooms have stunning ocean views and have been designed with inspiration from the fjord. The calming colours are
“The hotel is like a little oasis situated on the shore. Many of our guests come here to unwind and get away from all the hustle and bustle and the busyness of life. It is a very calming and peaceful place with a personal touch. Most of the guests are so mesmerised by the tranquillity of the ocean that they simply sit and watch it for hours, while listening to the waves as they crash against the rocks,” Jenny A. í Heiðunum, general manager at the hotel, explains.
While staying at the hotel, it will no doubt feel like your second home. The attentive staff will be at your service and help you with anything you may need, whether you’re looking for restaurant recommen-
dations, boat trips, the best hikes or anything else. “We care deeply about each and every guest and we take great pride in helping our guests with anything and everything. We will do our best to ensure that the stay at our beautiful and historic hotel is unforgettable,” í Heiðunum adds.
Staying at Hotel Havgrím, you’ll get the feeling that you are far away from everything, but in reality, it’s only a seven-minute walk from the town centre, the old part of Tórshavn, and a bouquet of restaurants and the coffeehouse, Kaffihúsið.
The great white house The mother-and-daughter owned hotel opened its doors in April 2018, after restoring the impressive Commodore’s House, also known among locals as the White House. The house, which has always been surrounded by a veil of mysticism among the locals, has a rich and interesting history dating back to 1948, when it was built by Havgrímur Johannesen from Tórshavn, whom the hotel is also named after. Built just a couple of years after the end of World War II, the house was like no other house ever built on the Faroe Islands.
“The house was designed by Eyðálvur á Heygum, inspired by Havgrím’s many sailing trips to Great Britain, and in particular Scotland. The house was very impressive, stylish, and extremely modern for its time,” says Lis Eklund, the mother and one of the owners.
Unfortunately, the Johannesen family only got to live in the big, beautiful house for a few years, as the family went bankrupt when a financial crisis hit the Faroe Islands in the early 1950s. The Danish Navy then purchased the house and since then, 21 Danish Commodores and their families have lived in the house. The last Commodore left in 2013, and the Faroese Government took over responsibility of the house until in 2016, they sold it to the new owners and the house was transformed into the beautiful boutique hotel that it is today.
“When restoring the house, it was important to us to keep the history of the house alive. For instance, we have a list of the names of all the dignitaries who have lived here hanging in the reception,” Eklund explains.
Sustainability at the forefront “We use eco-friendly products, including fair trade and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. All the energy at the hotel comes from our own geothermal source, and we use eco-friendly shower heads,” says Eklund.
With its peaceful atmosphere, beautiful surroundings and appetising breakfast, Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948 is not only the perfect place to stay when visiting the Faroe Islands; it is also the perfect place for board meetings, business meetings, bridal showers, weddings and so much more.
Web: www.hotelhavgrim.fo Facebook: Havgrím Seaside Hotel 1948 Instagram: @havgrimseasidehotel1948
The factory building at Christmas, a magical time at Devoldfabrikken. Photo: Peder Otto Dybvik
Shopping Centre of the Month, Norway Merging the past with the present for the future
In Langevåg, just a seven-minute boat ride from the Norwegian town of Ålesund, you’ll find the buzzing hub of Devoldfabrikken – an old textile factory turned outlet, arts and activity centre, preserving historical buildings for future generations.
Devoldfabrikken (The Devold Factory) hails back to 1853, when local textile worker Ole Andreas Devold founded the Devold brand and started producing woollen products that remain popular to this day. From his humble beginnings as a worker in his father’s textile workshop, he not only created a successful brand; through curiosity, innovation and vision, he also built what eventually became an industrial town, containing one of Norway’s first hydroelectric power stations, hospitals, churches, kindergartens, cultural venues and a fire station. Devoldfabrikken was among the first in Norway to install electrical lights, and only one year after the invention of the telephone, Devold brought two devices home from England, connecting the factory in Langevåg to the administrative offices in Ålesund across the fjord.
The production of woollen garments has since moved out of the factory, but the buildings remain, with ample space and opportunity. This was recognised by the Flakk family, whose business Flakk Group AS purchased the factory in 1989 and has since repaired, restored and rebuilt the old buildings, preparing them for a new life in the modern era.
Award-winning sustainability and preservation Today, Devoldfabrikken is a buzzing hub containing outlet stores, shops with local design, eateries and event spaces, as well as a chocolate factory, a bakery, a forge, workshops and art galleries. In the spring of 2022, Devold of Norway, the original brand of Devoldfabrikken, is establishing a brand-new flagship store in addition to the Outlet Store they have had for generations at Devoldfabrikken. The goal with the new Brand Store is to showcase the whole collection of iconic woollen garments.
In keeping with the values of the Flakk Group and the factory’s tradition, Devoldfabrikken aims to be a sustainable hub where the past meets the future on historical grounds. The rustic interiors and original details make for a very special atmosphere. “We want to recreate the experience the original workers had back in the day,” say CEO Kari Mette Ski and marketing manager Kristine Støversten, representing O A Devolds Sønner. “Even if you’re stepping into a modern office, you will find the factory’s old walls and floors.
We aim to use the original elements as much as possible.”
In 2016, Devoldfabrikken was awarded Olavsrosen (St. Olaf’s rose), a seal of quality awarded by the Norwegian organisation Norsk Kulturarv (Norwegian Cultural Heritage), due to the organisation’s efforts in maintaining and preserving a cultural heritage site for the future.
Stay for a while, or for the whole day Devoldfabrikken has plenty to offer, whether you’re there for a few hours or stay for a whole day. Stroll through the shops, grab a pastry and a coffee at one of the cafés, join in on one of the events taking place at the grounds, or visit the resident artists in their workshops.
For those who crave a bit more action, Devoldfabrikken’s newest attraction is the activity park Kraftverket. The park, consisting of 800 square metres of obstacle courses, slides, a bouldering wall and climbing frames, opened earlier this year and is a playground of fun for both kids and adults. Rental spaces for birthday celebrations are opening soon, with activities and access to the activity park.
The Devold Museum gives you a glimpse into the Devold story and displays garments and production equipment from the factory’s beginning back in 1853. A model train museum is also currently being built and is on track to become the largest in the Nordics. Already open to the public, the interactive miniature world of the Devold Model Railway displays landscapes from around the world, across 1,000 square metres. Outside the factory, a gondola lift is planned to open in 2024, transporting visitors up to the nearby mountain of Sulafjellet, with its spectacular hiking opportunities.
Ever-growing, Devoldfabrikken is set to be a lively experience and retail centre for generations to come, offering local residents work and opportunities and contributing to the diversity and economy of the region, all while keeping its rich and intriguing past alive.
Devoldfabrikken is located on the west coast of Norway, near the town of Ålesund.
Travel to Devoldfabrikken from Ålesund by boat (seven minutes) or by car (30 minutes).
Web: www.devoldfabrikken.no Facebook: Devoldfabrikken Instagram: @Devoldfabrikken Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 10am to 8pm Saturday: 10am to 6pm
Shops: Devold Outlet - Bergans Outlet Helly Hansen Outlet - SWIMS Outlet - Porsgrund Outlet - SWIX Outlet Sport’n Outlet
The outlet shops always offer a 30 to 70 per cent discount.
Also visit: Binderiet - Pralina chocolate factory - By Sunde - X-FAKTOR - Kantina café - Geiranger Bakery - Spinneriet - Vinmonopolet
Arts and craftsmen: Siw’s Pottery - Celsius Glass Studio - OH Design Forge - B&G Frame and furniture - Inger K. Giskeødegård Photographer Frida Berg - Solevåg Carpentry
Browse the iconic woollen Devold garments at the Devold Outlet shop. Photo: Kristin Støylen
Restaurant of the Month, Denmark Københavner Caféen:
High-class smørrebrød in Copenhagen’s old town
Tucked away on a cobbled side-street in Copenhagen’s old town, the unassuming Københavner Caféen might be hard to spot at first.
Petite red and white flags flutter above large, deep-set windows on an ochre stone façade. “We serve traditional Danish dishes and smørrebrød. Just as grandma made them,” proclaims the menu from a glass display beside a pine-green wooden door.
Unlike eateries that claim to be traditional, Københavner Caféen is authentically old. “It’s actually one of Copenhagen’s oldest restaurant locations,” says restaurant manager Sune Siestø Helmgaard. “It goes back to when there were bathhouses on Badestuestræde. This was the first place in the city where you could pay for a bite to eat,” he explains.
Traditional and down-to-earth For the past 40 years, Københavner Caféen has occupied the spot, serving the highest-quality smørrebrød (openfaced ryebread sandwiches), traditional Danish lunch and dinner, and transforming the intimate space with warm red walls, wood panelling, and local, antique artwork. The display makes for great dinner conversation. From a high shelf, a stuffed alligator eyeballs the dining room, a cigarette clamped between long teeth. “All I know is he’s always been there, and he’s always had a cigarette,” Siestø Helmgaard laughs. “The vibe is very informal and down-to-earth – it’s like coming home to your grandma’s kitchen.”
High-quality local produce That said, the restaurant runs as tight as a ship. The back bar is a meticulous line-up of quality Nordic snaps and liqueurs. The set menu changes four times a year, and the head chef is uncompromising on quality. “We follow the seasons,” says Siestø Helmgaard. “We prioritise using local produce – meat, greens, fish, everything. All our pork comes from Glomsø Grisen – a free-range farm here on Sjælland, and we only use Danish-caught plaice. It costs a little more, but it’s better quality.”
An authentic Danish lunch The culinary attention to detail is only half of the story. “A classic Danish lunch isn’t about sitting down and eating food… it’s about more than that: relaxing, being mindful, sharing one another’s company,” says Siestø Helmgaard. “Danes really get into the shared lunch concept – and that’s what we have here,” he continues.
That’s the reason, according to Siestø Helmgaard, why Københavner Caféen is fully booked every weekend until Christmas. “We host a lot of big, festive lunch parties for businesses, groups of friends, and families. The energy is lively and high-spirited – nobody can do it like we can.”
Web: www.kobenhavnercafeen.dk Facebook: Kobenhavnercafeen Instagram: @kobenhavnercafeen
Restaurant of the Month, Faroe Islands
The smell of good food, entrepreneurial spirit and history
Fríða Kaffihús started out as a small café trying to focus on the Faroese kitchen, but it has since developed into a movement that combines traditional food with tourism and history.
“It was a bit against the odds.” When Mimmy Vágsheyg set up the coffee shop a few years back, she could not have foreseen that it would take a few twists and turns along the way. Its start was successful, as the small café with its delicious coffee quickly became the main attraction in Klaksvik on Tripadvisor, able to compete with the bigger establishments in Tórshavn. Then came the coronavirus, just when they were about to move to new and bigger premises in Klaksvik’s first shopping centre. So it was only two months ago that Fríða Kaffihús was finally able to open up the new shop.
“It’s still very much an international menu, but the variety has grown and improved a lot. Every Saturday, there’s a big brunch with homemade buns, lamb rolls, rhubarb and much more. We aim to make as much of it homemade as possible, by using local ingredients where possible, to give our guests an authentic experience. All our cakes are also made here on site,” says Vágsheyg.
Pioneering spirit Fríða Kaffihús is named after the first boat built by the Faroese people 250 years ago, and the two share more than just the name. Pioneer Nólsoyar Páll built the boat, illegally and in hiding, and smuggled goods out of the country and traded them for corn, as many people were starving. Back then, this was seen as treason, but today it is recognised as having been of great significance for the Faroe Islands.
“They were pioneers, and that spirit is still very much alive here in this area. With our menus, we try to be small pioneers as well, by adding foreign ingredients to our recipes and mixing them with the local products,” Vágsheyg says. “We want to leave tourists with the feeling that they are in a historically very significant place. The house of Nólsoyar Páll, which has been refurbished, is situated just a few metres away from our café, and we have the old brewery just on the other side. Not only do we prepare local dishes, but we also co-arrange guided tours and storytelling about the area, because Fríða Kaffihús has become so much more than just a café.”
Web: www.frida.fo Facebook: fridakaffihus Instagram: @fridakaffihus