Villa Skeppet was originally named Villa Schildt but soon renamed Skeppet (boat or vessel) by the people in Ekenäs. ”Both from the inside and the outside you get the vision of a ship’s prow that rises towards the south bay in Ekenäs”. (Västra Nyland 13.1.1971).

Designing Villa Skeppet

Alvar Aalto respected Christine and Göran Schildts’ wishes in designing the villa. They were childless and wanted a small and comfortable house. Aalto, on the other hand, wanted to give the house special features: a monumental living room with a sculptural open fireplace and a lovely lily pond in the garden.

Alvar and Elissa Aalto inspected the site in spring 1969 and immediately started planning the house. The site’s advantages were its closeness to the sea and the beautiful parklike surroundings. A disadvantage was the height difference between the road and the inner yard which was only one and a half metres. Aalto had a strong inclination for stairs and managed nevertheless to include several in the building by placing the living room above the garage. The solution also prevented bypassers from looking in and no barriers or fences were needed in front of the house. In this way, the building could be placed so that it best fitted the landscape, thought Aalto.

The main features of the house could be seen in the first sketches: the fan-shaped roof and the position of the rooms. The author’s room was situated in its private wing, as Schildt had requested. The sauna was at first in the main building but later moved into a separate building that included a sauna and a guest room. One half of the guest room was dedicated to August Strindberg and the other to Henrik Ibsen, and the furniture originated from his childhood home. The interior design in the room differed from the rest of the house, where Aalto-designed furniture and objects from the Mediterranean countries formed a beautiful entity.

Read more about the architecture of Villa Skeppet

Villa Skeppet finds its place close to nature in Ekenäs

It was partly Alvar Aalto who steered the Schildts to Ekenäs. Aalto had just finished designing the Savings bank in Ekenäs and suggested that this charming small town could be the perfect home for an author. That suited Christine well because she had grown up in the neighbouring town, Karis, where her parents still lived. Göran Schildt, on the other hand, had no direct connection to the area. He was born in Helsinki and had mostly spent time in eastern Uusimaa, where he had built a home, Villa Itaka, in Östersundom. In 1965, he and Christine bought a house on Leros, and in 1968 he had to leave Itaka. He no longer had a permanent residence in Finland when Aalto declared: “You spend too much time abroad. I am going to make you a house so beautiful that you will want to return to Finland.”

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