Both Furillen’s military radar stations are now closed down. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, R130 Katten and R236 Bonsen were no longer regarded as necessary for scanning the sea and guarding against unseen enemies.
The quarrying of limestone has also long since ceased. The small peninsula has been left with scattered craters in the rock, filled no longer with working
men and dusty machinery, but with pure, blue-green water and silence. Vegetation has reclaimed the island and reminders of its earlier life can only be seen in scattered locations: metal stairs, building plinths, slag heaps, concrete walls, foundations,
The beaches are empty save for solitary fragments of driftwood. The waves wash against the small flat, worn limestone pebbles; if you were to pick one at random and examine it more closely, you would almost certainly find traces of fossils. Furillen’s original inhabitants in petrified form.
One day a group gathers by the water. They squint against the bright, white light
that floods in from all directions, but mostly from the east. The visitors chat and try to
stop the salt-tinged winds from playing havoc with neatly-coiffed hairdos and flimsy clothing. Suddenly the mother gasps in surprise, and the hum of conversation ceases. The bride has arrived, the wedding ceremony begins and Furillen is now no longer the end of the world. It is the starting point for everything.
When the military and industry have ceased their dogged struggle, it’s as if a new era can begin, with vitality and curiosity seemingly the only things that have ever been able to cross the narrow divide between Gotland and Furillen.
The northern side of the peninsula is a nature reserve, where humans are only welcome at certain times of the year, provided they do not disturb the greylag geese, shelducks, lapwings or any of the other birds.
Further south relics of the old limestone industry have, slowly and without detracting from the beauty of the austere buildings, been transformed into one of Sweden’s best hotels, originally planned to accommodate photo-graphers attracted to Furillen by
the setting, the light and the isolation.
The asphalt road ends there, becoming a glaring trail of dusty limestone gravel. White cows graze on the low coastal meadows. There are only than fifteen of them, but that’s probably still more than the number of people present on the island on an average day. Over the road, long narrow shadows move rhythmically as the rotor blades of the wind turbines gather in energy from the perpetual ocean winds.
Furillen is no more than five hundred metres wide at this point, but while the view to the west is unobstructed, the eastern side can scarcely be glimpsed between the low pines. However, if you look very carefully, you can see a small post, no taller than
a small child. On top of the post is a power point, whispering almost inaudibly that this
is where you should turn left.
When you actually see the building, it’s inconceivable that it didn’t loom out of the landscape earlier – a cube-shaped building twenty by twenty metres ought to be impossible to miss. But there it is in the glade. Fully clad in a facade of Corten steel that, with its matt, rust-tarnished surface, completely blends in with the brown-red-green colouring of the pine trees.
Here the architect has lowered the heavy building into place so gently that even
after he has slowly parted his cupped hands and released it, it still does not touch the ground; the building remains suspended a fraction above the surface without disturbing gravel, cones, wild thyme and harebells.
Once the building’s electronic brain has accepted your pass card, it answers to you and you are welcomed in.
The closed facade can be opened up by lowering hydraulic panels – like the petals on a waking flower – to form terraces. Inside await empty rooms to be filled with life, ideas, activity. Everything here is to help generate ideas and shape them – the gantry in the studio ceiling is no mere decoration, but rather a challenge. The work areas, bedrooms, sauna, kitchen, library and the open expanse of the basement are ready and waiting to receive guests and their desires.
The entire building can alternate between openness and seclusion, with dividing sliding doors, movable backdrops, semi-transparent curtain widths and the immense glass surfaces that can become fully impenetrable by means of the adjustable facade panels, if work or mood requires. The atrium of the building offers a height-adjustable platform with a slatted zinc floor that filters the light into paler shafts. At its highest position the platform forms a roof terrace, while the middle or bottom position provides an enclosed patio.
Studio Furillen offers all the facilities you need for an extended private stay, but also the chance for contact on your own terms. The hotel – with staff, guests, restaurant and opportunities for conversation – is within walking distance.
And knowing your way back to the right stretch of woodland will be much easier now.