Sweden Built Glass Cabins for Five Stressed-Out Foreigners in Its Latest Fun Tourism Stunt

Hope they know how to fish

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Sweden is a consistent high-ranker in quality of life, sitting at No. 2 in the OECD Quality of Life index, with 81 percent of its 9.5 million people reportedly in good health.

What’s its secret? Visit Sweden and Turistrådet Västsverige (the West Sweden Tourist Board) are banking on the country’s closeness to nature. And it’s about to give that theory a test run.

“The 72 Hour Cabin” is an invitation to five people with “the world’s most stressful jobs” to spend three full days each living in separate glass cabins, surrounded by bucolic spoils. Created with help from Walter Osika and Cecilia Stenfors, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, subjects will spend that time wearing a bracelet that tracks their well-being.

The stress of everyday life is a subject we probably spend way too much time thinking about, partly because it’s so hard to escape. This makes it rich territory for brand intervention.

Sweden itself can perhaps be compared to Canada in terms of the vast expanses between its few densely populated metropolises, which themselves remain stunningly verdant.

This stems from an idea labeled Allemansrätten, or “right of public access,” a term referring to everyone’s right to freely experience nature without cost. It’s a right people work hard to protect; per a Visit Sweden press release, the golden rule is “Do not disturb and do not destroy.” Right of public access is protected by the Swedish constitution.

“Swedish nature offers the physical and mental space to face yourself and others,” says Osika. “I’ve found that time passed in nature is beneficial for a good amount of my patients, and applaud this Swedish initiative.”

The subjects hail from Great Britain, Germany, France and the U.S. They are Ben Fogle, a London-based broadcaster; Parisian taxi driver Marilyne Didier; New York event coordinator Baqer Keshwani; Munich police officer Steffi Tauscher; and London travel journalist Chris Leadbeater (a wonderfully apt name for the profession).

Read more about them on the website, where they describe their professional stresses and what they hope to get out of the project. Much of what they have to say will resonate with average urbanites—a life in “perpetual motion” (Fogle), the sense of being so overwhelmed that time to oneself doesn’t exist (Keshwani), or having to “give 100 percent from one second to the next” (Tauscher).

Each will live alone in a classy glass cabin, as close to nature as possible without waking up covered in dew, located on Henriksholm Island, two hours north of Gothenburg in western Sweden. The island is 60 percent forest, 40 percent highland cattle pasture. Check out the typical view:

The cabins were designed by Jeanna Berger, an architecture student at Gothenburg-based Chalmers Tekniska Högskola. She is the daughter of Staffan and Maria Berger, who own Henriksholm. Her brother-in-law Jonas Fred Hell, and his colleague Robert Fridh of Fridh & Hells Bygg AB Construction Company, built the homes.

Visit Sweden has earned a place in our hearts for its out-of-the-box efforts in lifting itself into cultural salience. It has listed its entire country on Airbnb, another play on “freedom to roam” and given citizens control of its Twitter account. (Another group, the Swedish Tourist Association, even created a phone number that anyone could dial to chat with an ordinary Swede.)

“The 72 Hour Cabin” experiment will take place this week from Thursday to Sunday, and the results will be shared in October. Participants will be able to swim, fish and cook by campfire.

“Nature enables the Swedish to reinvigorate, relax and improve their quality of life while feeling happier,” says Visit Sweden’s client experience director, Jennie Skogsborn Missuna. “With ‘The 72 Hour Cabin,’ we hope to give people from many countries the chance to better understand the relationship between the Swedish and nature, and convince others to take advantage of our vast, easily accessible spaces.”

Agency: Prime
Client: Visit Sweden
Title: “The 72 Hour Cabin”

Team at Visit Sweden:
Maria Skarve – Global Communication Manager
Jenny Jonevret – Senior Project Manager
Jennie Skogsborn Missuna – Chief Experience Officer

Team at Prime:
Account Director: Amanda Engström
Creative Director: Petter Lublin
Art Director: Magnus Klang
Media Strategist: Sofie Segerborg
Social media Strategist: Fredrick Lewandowski
Account manager: Cecilia von Beetzen
Planner: Edward Boethius
Photographer: Maja Flink

The Fans. The Brands. Social Good. The Future of Sports. Don't miss the upcoming Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience on Nov. 16-19. Early-bird passes available until Oct. 26. Register now

@luckthelady angela.natividad@gmail.com Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.