In the celebrated nature reserve of Kintulammi, Finland, architect Malin Moisio of Tampere-based architecture studio Arkkitehtitoimisto TILASTO has created the Kirkkokiven laavu — the Church Stone Shelter — as a free and welcome respite to hikers. Built mainly from wood and recycled materials, the minimalist and contemporary shelter was inspired by a large natural boulder located close by. The project’s name takes inspiration from the history of the boulder, which once served as a primitive church for local horse shepherds in the 18th century.

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people huddled inside a gabled timber structure in a forest

Developed as part of a network of free shelters in the Kintulammi nature reserve, the Church Stone Shelter primarily serves as a place for rest and meal preparation rather than overnight stays. To improve accessibility, the hiking shelter can also be reached by a wheelchair-accessible path that leads from a nearby parking area.

Related: Glowing, celestial-inspired shelter communes with nature in Denmark

people around a fire pit inside a wood gabled structure
warm glow from a firepit inside a gabled wood structure in the woods

Constructed from a vertically placed 5-by-5-inch timber frame, the gable-roofed shelter, with its rectangular floor plan, evokes the image of a house with a hearth at its heart. This familiar form, combined with the predominant use of warm-toned timber, gives the shelter its welcoming and cozy quality, while its tall, vaulted ceiling recalls the sacral spaces of a church. Both gable ends are completely open to the outdoors to emphasize a fluid connection with nature; small windows of varying sizes provide carefully framed views of the forest.

close-up of wood ceiling beams
logs underneath benches around a firepit

The use of timber, which is treated with a natural blend of tar and linseed oil, also helps blend the building into its wooded surroundings. The wooden walls were placed atop a plinth made of recycled paving stones. The steeply pitched roof is felted. “The building was developed in cooperation with the city-owned Ekokumppanit Oy and the Parish of Tampere who contributed to the building materials,” the architect said. “All the construction was done on site without electricity, mainly with hand tools. Within a short period of time, the Church Stone Shelter has become an iconic symbol of the Kintulampi Hiking and Nature Reserve.”

+ Arkkitehtitoimisto TILASTO

Photography by Malin Moisio and Julia Kivelä via Arkkitehtitoimisto TILASTO