Secluded Living on a Finnish Island

Secluded Living on a Finnish Island

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Located just outside downtown Helsinki on the island of Lauttasaari, this functionalist home offers Nordic style in a secluded, peaceful atmosphere.

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Kiinteistomaailma Helsinki Ullanlinna Tehtaankatu

Perched above a private beachfront dotted with berry bushes, birches and pines, Villa Tallberg boasts the sort of pristine, silent nature this Nordic country is famous for.

It also showcases the work of Viljo Revell, one of Finland’s greatest architects, who ushered in the stark, perpendicular lines of the Finnish modern nationalist movement.

Located on an island a few miles west of central Helsinki, the functionalist home affords a modern living experience in a secluded setting more like that of a Finnish summer cottage, where one can pick berries and swim in the sea.

“It didn’t feel like you were living in the city,” said its owner, Ismo Bergroth, who lived in the house with his wife, Maj, and their two children. “You could enjoy the swimming pool and beach and even fish from the pier.”

From the street, the house appears to be a simple low-slung villa of white-painted concrete on a walled-in lot. Facing the sea, however, is a sprawling, L-shaped house of two stories with numerous picture windows, terraces and balconies overlooking a garden and, beyond it, a picturesque bay on the Gulf of Finland.

“When you’re walking on the street, you’d hardly know that such a big house was here,” said Maarit Pietarila, owner of the Kiinteistomaailma Ullanlinna Tehtaankatu real estate brokerage. “It’s very private. All the big windows look out to the sea and not the street.”

The hefty list price of 12.5 million euros, or about $13.3 million, reflects an extensive two-year indoor and outdoor renovation that started in 1999. The offering includes a separate guest cottage on 70 meters, or 230 feet, of beachfront and about 2,900 square meters, or about 31,000 square feet, of water property extending out from the shore.

“You have your beach, your beach house, your dock, and you can bring your boat,” Ms. Pietarila said. “But if you want to go to the opera, it’s 10 minutes away.”

The 590-square-meter, four-bedroom house has a spacious living and dining area with tile and merbau wood floors and a large, multiview fireplace with a wavy motif inspired by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

Luxurious touches appear throughout the home, including an infrared sauna, steam shower, gym and large, walk-in closets. The kitchen has Miele appliances, stone countertops, a wine cabinet and a built-in espresso-maker. The five bathrooms feature a free-standing tub, whirlpool bath, sink islands and large, open showers.

The two-story home, which was designed by the Finnish architect Viljo Revell, sits on a private beach dotted with pines, spruces and berry bushes.

Credit
Kiinteistomaailma Helsinki Ullanlinna Tehtaankatu

With its minimalistic lines, horizontal articulation and large picture windows, the house typifies the residential architecture of Mr. Revell, who is known internationally for designing Toronto’s New City Hall.

He served twice as an assistant to Mr. Aalto, whom he admired throughout his career despite championing the signature stark lines of the modern nationalist school in response to Mr. Aalto’s more sensuous, romantic style.

Considered a visionary who enthusiastically embraced innovations in design, architecture and construction, Mr. Revell was an avid collaborator who can often be seen in photographs brainstorming with up-and-coming engineers and designers.

“For him, architecture was teamwork with architect colleagues, engineers, interior and furniture designers and artists,” said Juhana Lahti, head of research at the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

The home was custom designed by Mr. Revell in 1956 for the Tallbergs, a prominent Finnish construction family with a long history on Lauttasaari, the suburban island where the house is located, one of several linked to the Finnish capital by bridge.

When the current owners first saw the house, in 1999, it had last served as a rental property for the United States government, which used it for a decade to house Marines.

“Though it had been empty for a few years after the Marines, their presence could still be seen,” Mr. Bergroth said. “Windows were covered with plastic to prevent fragmentation, lamps were covered by mesh and all doors had room numbers on them.”

After buying the home, the Bergroths embarked on an extensive renovation, during which the house and its surroundings were all but rebuilt.

The large garden area was put to good use, he said, noting that the family grew black currants, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and sea buckthorns.

A greenhouse that still exists on the property allowed for herbs, delicate lettuces and seasonal vegetables during Finland’s long summer days and nights.

There was fishing and swimming in the pool and the sea. All the while, the family’s two dogs ran freely around the property.

It was, he said, “almost as if you were at a cottage or a holiday home.”

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