Apelle is a wooden one family house located in Karjaa - Finland. The building rests in a natural harbor like a boat in a sheltering pocket surrounded by bed rocks and trees.

The interior space of Apelle is a continuous tube that grows gradually along the house and through the main opening and terrace into the forest. Along this axis the collective and private actions are tuned according to the times, functions and needs of the day and night.  The same space is used for everything from sleeping to eating and from socializing to work as a studio space or a gym. This kind of multi-functional space of “tupa” or “pirtti” is common in traditional Finnish architecture. A free standing cube serves for water with a sleeping loft on top.

Like the structural masts between ship decks, a white metal stove separates one space from the next and serves as a division between the bed and the rest of the room. Three circular windows in series sit at the façade, alluding to similar lookouts on vessels at sea. The planked floors and parallel skylights create the sensation of the home at harbor among the surrounding woodland.

House Apelle is part of nature. The surrounding forest has been architecturally articulated into a shelter for a family of contemporary natives. The house is in the forest as much as the forest is in the house – the architecture is a mediator between the modern man and nature.

Apelle is well insulated with wood based materials and during the harsh winters it heats up by thermal heating supported by two fire-places. The main building volume is structurally supported by a smaller volume on the side acting as an outrigger.

Apelle is built by two local carpenters used to for building both houses and wooden boats. According to the carpenters, this is a boat.


Architect: Marco Casagrande

C-LAB: Nikita Wu, Jan Luksic, Shreya Nagrath, Arijit Sen
Construction Manager: Bengt Öhman / LU-Rakennus
Master Carpenters: Ingolf Westerholm, Jens Nylund
Furniture Design: Marco Casagrande
Furniture Prototype Master: Mirella Peltonen
Location: Karjaa, Finland
Size: 140 m2
Materials: Wood, black brick
Completed : 2013

Kindly supported by

Wood materials and expertise: UPM Kymmene
Window structures, manufacturing and assembly: Pilkington + Schüco + Domus
Roof window structure and assembly: Pilkington + Lasi-Kalle
Paints: Tikkurila
Household machinery: SMEG
Interior details: Domus, Lasistamo, Hansgrohe, Sovella, Teclux

Photos: AdDa Zei

Apelle, figlio di Apollo
Fece una palla di pelle di pollo
Tutti i pesci vennero a galla
Per vedere la bella palla di pelle di pollo
Fatta da Apelle figlio di Apollo

1. What inspired the original idea for the Apelle home?

To create a basic multi-functional living unit for a family that is sailing in time but in straight connection with reality, nature. It is the family, that has come to this site and Apelle is their boat. This is not a yacht though, but a simple and more performative vessel.

2. Can you briefly describe the sustainable features of the home?

Main thing is the high quality of environmentally friendly insulation that works together with the wooden frame - no plastic inside and the structures are breathing. This is not a passive house, but an active spatial vessel. The living space is heated up during the hard winters by thermal ground heat via a 150 meters deep well. Alternatively the house can be warmed up by the two very effective fire-places. The ecology of this house is normal. There is no tricks. This is a well insulated wooden house heated up by nature.

3. What was the construction process?

The construction process was very fortunate. We found an excellent team of carpenters that were not afraid of building an architectural ship. Much of the decisions were made on the construction site. Also, when the main frame was up the interior was tuned up to it - to the real 1:1 scale space, not according to the drawings, the academic guesses. The carpenters and the construction manager were open for a dialog and appreciated it. There was no remoter-control of architecture, but real building on site. Designing took one year and the construction another year.

4. How much did the Apelle home cost to build?


5. What are your favorite design features of the home?

The feeling of one space that gets activated by the circling sun and moon. I also like the fact of proper construction and that the interior can be easily managed without oil or other external heating system. The house is very independent, even the water can be taken easily from the yard if needed.

6. Why do the builders consider this house a boat?

Real construction workers are very sensitive, kind of structural artists. Our carpenter started to talk about a boat immediately when they saw the drawings and how the house was going to be fitted on the site without blowing of rocks or other heavy foundation works. They also took care that the one interior space got as active as possible and corrected me all the time along the way. They felt the nature of this house from the very beginning took responsibility of protecting its soul during the construction process. The emotional energy of their hands is everywhere in the house and this impact does not disappear ... it feels almost like kind of love. They were sailing this house from the very first scratch. I did the navigation.

7. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I hope to be able to build good homes for good people - where ever on the planet. So much can be done by using our hands outside the mainstream industrial fiction. Sustainable architecture is not rocket-science, it is linking our body to the site-specific natural environment. Architecture is a mediator between human nature and the rest of nature, which also brings in an equally great responsibility of not alienating modern man from nature. We are nomads.