”You’ll always find something new to excite you here”
On unique architecture and scenery in Hälsingland
June 03, 2021
Architect Hanna Michelson lives in Stockholm with her family, but her roots spread back to Hälsingland from her grandfather that was born there. A couple of years ago Hanna’s father bought a piece of land on a former ski slope, that over time had been transformed into a beautiful birch forest that overlooked the Ljusnan valley. The initial idea of building a landscape hotel to honour the scenery was finalised with a loft house in 2017 — and Bergaliv was born.
— The second house is under construction and will be finished this summer. Designing the loft house was also the beginning of the architectural project I call Fria Folket. A project aiming to find alternatives to conventional ways of using our living space in modern times and doing so by learning from our history, Hanna explains.
My favourite thing that makes me proud of Hälsingland:
When working on my projects a great inspiration and source of knowledge have always been the vernacular architecture of Hälsingland. Back in the days, there weren’t any nobilities here but the farmers were free and wealthy. They used their wealth to build elaborately decorated farmhouses, many of them still impressively well preserved. For some time now seven of them have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list and are open for visitors. It doesn’t matter how often you visit them; you’ll always find something new to excite you.
My favourite weekend routine:
One of my favourite things to do is visiting one of the many farm auctions that are usually held during the summer weekends. They are announced in the local paper Ljusnan and are often quite festive. There’s usually food and beverage available and there is this one auctioneer that is just as much a stand-up comedian as he is an auctioneer. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything it’s worth the visit just for the fun of it. After that, I like to go to the greenhouse and garden store Mobackes just outside of Bollnäs. They have a great little café that’s perfect for fika with the kids before browsing the garden for plants.
My favourite cultural spot:
Gästgivars. This is one of the seven farmhouses inscribed in the world heritage list of UNESCO. During summer they have guided tours and also exhibitions, a really nice restaurant and a shop with antiques and crafts.
My favourite place for dining out:
I really like an evening at Växbo Krog. It’s situated close to an old watermill so the site is just beautiful. The food is inspired by the traditional food culture of Hälsingland but with a modern approach. There is also a fun watermill playground for the kids to play when the energy starts bursting after dinner. For me, it’s important not to distract them with screens when being part of such a nice social event like eating out, but I totally get that it can be frustrating to sit still for all too long. This makes Växbo Krog with its fun surroundings just perfect.
My favourite breakfast place:
Månses Design just outside of Söderhamn. Cosy café situated in an old school. They have a very nice conservatory where you can sit and also a store where they sell their own crockery.
My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:
I guess I would say the carpenter that built the Lofthouse, Anders Jonsson. He is such a creative person full of ideas. A couple of years ago he bought this food truck and went ahead winning the Swedish food truck championship of 2018. Now he alternates his carpentry with running a really popular outdoor restaurant called Matsas Mat down in Bollnäs.
My favourite hotel for a staycation:
Orbaden Spa & Resort is nice if you feel like treating yourself for a day or two. They have great food, yoga classes and a heated outdoor pool blessed with the most stunning view of the river Ljusnan. I like it best off-season when you can stroll by yourself along the Orbaden beach and pretend to be a character in some Agatha Christie novel.
My favourite route for a run or walk:
Hälsingeleden, a 160 kilometers walking trail running south to north. Great for running, walking and cycling.
My favourite place for fashion:
I wouldn’t say I go to Hälsingland for fashion. I do go here to knit sweaters and scarves by the fire which is perfect since one of Sweden’s absolutely best yarn stores is located in Hälsingland, Garnbutiken in Kilafors. The gathered supply of Stockholms yarn stores doesn’t even come close in my opinion. In Kilafors there is also a really cool place called Filtmakeriet. It’s a small wool spinning factory run by two sisters that produce local wool products. You can buy DIY kits as well as finished products. Check their website for opening hours before going though. It’s only open on certain days.
My favourite space for great design:
Not far from Växbo Krog you’ll find Växbo Lin, a weaving and spinning factory that goes all the way back to 1989. Here you can buy beautiful linen products and also visit the factory to see how the production works. When going here we always take a walk down to the Växbo mill afterwards to have a cup of coffee at the bakery and hang out by the children’s watermill.
My favourite local media:
When staying in Hälsingland I definitely prefer real papers before screens so I would definitely say the local paper Ljusnan. A perfect mix of big news and really small feel-good local ones.
My favourite thing at home:
My art wall. It started out with a bunch of random artwork that I just printed from the internet to fill the wall but over the years we’ve been able to replace them one by one with pieces made by friends and family.