A deserted island taken over by butterflies becomes the home of Nolla cabin

Vallisaari, the most biologically diverse island in the Helsinki metropolitan area, is home to hundreds of plant and animal species and has witnessed an exciting leg of Finnish history. Next, the island will take on something of the future: the Nolla cabin.

A 20-minute boat ride from the heart of Helsinki and an extraordinary natural habitat, Vallisaari provided an ideal location for a cabin that aims to demonstrate living at its simplest and purest. By placing the Nolla cabin here, we wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to live in an environment where minimizing human impact is crucial.

Vallisaari is owned by Metsähallitus, a Finnish state-owned enterprise, and located between the islands of Suomenlinna and Santahamina. Its history dates back to 1554, but the island saw its heyday during the Crimean War in 1853, when it was a significant outpost to the Suomenlinna fortress, and its fortifications were built. After Finland gained its independence in 1917, the Defence Forces stored their weaponry in Vallisaari until the 21st century.

The civilian population of the island was at its largest in the 1950s, but there is no usable infrastructure left from these years, and for a few decades Vallisaari remained in a nearly natural state. After the Finnish Defence Forces gave up the island in 2008, it has been lightly equipped for the necessities of day travellers and sailors. Vallisaari was opened for the public in 2016.

At the turn of the millennium, researchers investigated the biodiversity of more than 200 islands in the Helsinki archipelago and found Vallisaari to exhibit the richest flora. The island is also home to some 1,000 butterfly species, more than a hundred of which are endangered or rare. Badgers roam the forest floors, swans glide majestically between the surrounding reefs, and bats soar in the island’s nightskies.

As Vallisaari becomes the home of the Nolla cabin and its guests in August, it is important to appreciate the delicate nature and history of the island. From the design of the cabin to transporting our guests to Vallisaari, we have taken meticulous care to execute everything with minimal to no emissions or waste. As this first lap of Journey to Zero begins, we want to thank Vallisaari for welcoming Nolla to its perfectly unique environment.

We have embarked on a journey towards a fossil free future. However, it takes more than one to reach zero. Together with our partners, Neste will explore new ideas and steer the world towards a better future.