Helsinki has several unique summer cottage areas. Visitors are often curious to know more about them: who lives in these “Hobbit villages” with their tiny cottages the size of playhouses in the middle of forests?

In 1928 the City of Helsinki began to offer poorer residents a new form of recreation in the form of fabric tents, initially in Varsasaari and Satamasaari. The Finnish summer is unpredictable, however, so it was not long before people began asking permission to set up something sturdier than a tent. They were subsequently allowed to build tiny cottages.

To prevent the building of unsightly shacks, the renowned architect Hilding Ekelund was commissioned in 1946 to create a single design for the cottages. The maximum size permitted was 12 square metres including the terrace. An additional 2 square metres was permitted for storage. The residents own only the cottage itself. The land itself is a zoned as a public recreation area. There is no electricity, and the water is turned on only in summertime. The residents share outdoor dry toilets. It is a truly eco-lifestyle, in other words!

The summer cottage area in Länsiulapanniemi is used by employees of Helsinki City Transport and the Police, as well as by members of the Disabled War Veterans Association. The Police House is a popular venue for parties that can be rented by anyone.

The summer cottages usually change hands by word of mouth. Further information about cottages and allotments can be found here.