Niliaitta – the vision of a house hovering between the trees

The article has been published in June 2021 in Wood magazine 1/2021.

Text: Elina Viitanen | Photographs: Marc Goodwin, Archmospheres

Read the article in Finnish: Niliaitta – puiden välissä leijuva talo

The Suomenselkä region in central Finland was settled by the indigenous Sámi in earlier days. The area is characterised by higher terrain and a different habitat than the surrounding environment, giving it a feeling of the more northerly regions. The region has also been nicknamed Lapland’s finger. This is why a modern version of the Niliaittas (bear caches), traditionally built by the Sámi for storage, was constructed in Kivijärvi.


The cache is at the end of a narrow path, and it has been carefully positioned to ensure only a few trees needed to be cut during the construction phase. By raising the cache onto a pillar, contact with the natural world below has been minimised. After the cache was built, the forest below was restored to its original appearance by transferring plants from elsewhere.

“Once there, your attention first focuses on the forested landscape. When you approach from a distance, the cache blends into its surroundings thanks to its colouring. This makes the vision of a house hovering between the trees a little surprising. When you walk along on the ground, the building does not sit between you and the surrounding landscape so you can look out at nature without hindrance,”points out shareholder Mikko Jakonen.

The inside of the cache provides a unique experience. Thanks to the full-size glass wall, the visual connection with the nature around you remains as unobstructed as possible. The cache’s interior space and experience is defined by design by the landscape that opens out from the window, supported by the subtle, unaccented interior and surfaces creating a neutral background.

“Looking out from inside the cache, the view out on the place and landscape is special and takes you away from the everyday.”

The cache is as well equipped as a quality hotel room. The toilet, spacious shower, and kitchenette are all wrapped around the core at the centre of the cache. All the technology is also integrated into this core: including the ventilation unit, heat pump, water heater, and electrical panel.

“This allows the other interior surfaces in the cache to be kept as free as possible from technology, resulting in an overall harmonious and uncomplicated effect. The spaces around the core are clearly demarcated and enable the small space to be used rationally. ”

The materials and wood structures of the cache are environmentally friendly throughout. The wood also creates a cosy atmosphere, healthy indoor air, and pleasant acoustics.

“The wall, floor and ceiling structures are made from wood. The insulation is based on wood fibre, and the cache is clad inside and out with wood. No plastic has been used in the structures, ”Jakonen emphasises.