Of the many inspiring places I visited on my most recent trip to Sweden, Uppgrenna Naturhus is one of my favourites. Part meeting place, part coffee house, part events and conference space it is the brainchild of Bodil Antonsson who has managed to turn her long held dreams into a reality. But listing the uses of this incredible building does not do justice to it’s setting, it’s beauty, its green credentials and its uniqueness. It is in fact, Sweden’s only natural environment of its kind, providing a meeting place with a holistic view, which will contribute and inspire a sustainable way of building and living, as well as doing business.
Situated on the shores of Lake Vättern with uninterrupted views of water, Uppgrenna Naturhus has without doubt a spectacular vantage point. We arrived just as the sun was setting which was momentarily reflected off the side wall of glass. A clear invitation to step inside out of the biting chill to see how the lake looked from the inside.
The Beauty of the Building
Bodil remembers how she visited a greenhouse as a little girl with her father and her dreams really began there. The realisation of those dreams however took many, many years and even after the site was chosen, the naturhus took eight years to build. In that time an existing barn was demolished and replaced by a modern building that is part barn and part greenhouse. Partly insulated building, and partly a unheated glass structure with space for plants and sheltered terraces with views. It has a climate inside, similar to northern Italy we were told.
Upstairs under the glass roof there is an open space with hammocks, cushions and spaces to lounge. Yoga classes are regularly held here. And concerts. It must be magical on summer evenings with the candles flickering and the sun setting below the horizon. The space is for hire. You can even hire a hammock by the hour.
Below this there is a conservatory type room with the double height cultivation area at one end and comfortable seats. Here you can have coffee and snacks, wrapped up in blankets when it’s cold. In the insulated part of the building is the ‘Mediterranean room’ where you can bask in the heat and light of special lamps that mimic the heat and light of the sun. This can also be booked by the hour.
The remarkable thing about Uppgrenna Naturhus is that it is self-sustaining. The glass extends the growing season and allows the cultivation of fruit and vegetables that normally grow in warmer countries. And all water that is used in the kitchen and bathrooms is purified and recycled and used for the plants. The house is not connected to mains drainage at all. Visitors get to enjoy the fruits too in the delicious cakes and drinks on offer.
In Bodil’s words “We want to offer different forms of recreation and relaxation in an increasingly stressful life, in an environment where nature and plants play an important role.“
All images © Tina Stafrén