Ever wanted to escape to your own private island in the middle of the wilderness? Project Ö has got just the thing for you.

What happens when two designers decide to buy an uninhabited island on the southern coast of Finland? In the case of Project Ö, a perfect island getaway was born. Ö, which means island in Swedish, seemed like a fitting name for the project that Aleksi Hautamäki and Milla Selkimäki undertook. The couple felt a draw to the Finnish archipelago and its untouched, rugged scenery and clean sea air. The couple’s favourite area is the southern Finnish coastline, west of Helsinki. “There, the islands are rocky and the landscape is very dramatic, but it’s not too far from the capital,” Selkimäki says.

Project Ö: An off-the-grid island getaway in the Finnish Archipelago

Photo: Archmospheres

The couple bought a small boat and finally found their perfect island, Skjulskäret, located in the heart of Archipelago National Park in Southwest Finland. Then, the building work commenced, and soon enough, a gable-roofed house with big windows rose from the ground. “We wanted to build a house that would complement the surrounding landscape; something that would coexist in harmony with nature,” Hautamäki explains.

Initially, the plan was to use the island as a holiday home for the family, but soon Project Ö’s social media was filled with queries about whether they would rent out the accommodation. Now, the island of Skjulskäret offers visitors an authentic off-the-grid archipelago experience. The island house sleeps up to six people and includes all the comforts of modern life, including a fully equipped kitchen, a toilet and bathroom, and a wood-heated sauna as well as a natural hot tub, and a private beach.

The nearest International airport is Helsinki, which is about a two-hour drive away from Kasnäs, from where a boat ride to the island takes 20 mins. Guests can also reach the island by boat or even helicopter.

Project Ö: An off-the-grid island getaway in the Finnish Archipelago

Pavillion. Photo: Mike Kelley

Functional island bliss

Hautamäki and Selkimäki are both designers, with a longstanding background in branding and user experience, and that is clearly reflected in the house’s meticulous design details: everything has been carefully thought of and designed with functionality and aesthetics in mind. Everything, from acoustics and the breathability of building materials to the placement – and even colour coding – of light switches and water taps, has been considered and selected with the user in mind. “This is a place that not only pleases the senses; it’s also a place where the user experience has directed the house’s design to maximise comfort and functionality,” Hautamäki says.

The architecture is minimal and understated, with the island’s two buildings seamlessly integrated into the landscape. “The star of the show is the surrounding nature, and we wanted to invite nature in, which is why there are big windows throughout the house. The nature is very much a part of the whole house, and the stunning views open up from all the rooms,” Hautamäki adds.

Project Ö: An off-the-grid island getaway in the Finnish Archipelago

Owners Aleksi Hautamäki and Milla Selkimäki with their son. Photo: Onni Aaltonen

At one with the elements

The island offers a variety of authentic experiences: guests can navigate the surrounding waters using kayaks and boats, enjoy basking in the sun on the island’s smooth rock surface, or prepare meals in one of the island’s kitchens. In the evenings, guests can warm up the sauna and relax in the hot tub or take an invigorating dip in the sea.

While visitors have the option of cooking their own meals, they can also choose to delve into the island’s diverse culinary scene by having meals prepared by a professional chef. “If visitors choose to do self-catering, there are plenty of ways to enjoy traditional island cooking; from open fire barbecues to smoked fish. We can also bring groceries to the island for them to prepare, or they can have a dinner banquet prepared by a skilled chef. We are always happy to tailor our guests’ stay to suit their needs,” says Selkimäki.

Project Ö: An off-the-grid island getaway in the Finnish Archipelago

Gåsskären cabin. Photo: Project Ö

More opportunities to reconnect with nature

In 2023, Hautamäki and Selkimäki decided to embark on another island project, and found Gåsskären, a cluster of islets perched on the edge of the open sea, where guests can experience and witness the beauty of nature and the power of the sea.

Nestled on the largest of these islands rests a modernised fisherman’s cabin, which offers all necessary comforts including running water and electricity. The cabin’s décor draws inspiration from early modernist cabin architecture, creating a cosy and warm ambience. The outdoor decking provides a great setting for dining, cooking, or watching the stunning island sunsets from a hot tub.

Indeed, Project Ö is all about rekindling a connection between yourself and nature, and the couple behind it has another exciting island venture in the pipeline, which will launch shortly. “For us, Project Ö is about enjoying the solitude the islands have to offer. We want to offer others the opportunity to experience everything the archipelago has to offer,” Selkimäki concludes.

Project Ö: An off-the-grid island getaway in the Finnish Archipelago

Gåsskären cabin interior. Photo: Project Ö

Web: www.project-o.fi
Instagram: @project_archipelago

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