Located in Kustavi, Villa Sarvilinna (Villa Hornborg) is Lars Sonck’s (1870–1956) masterpiece of large-scale wood architecture; as far as known, it is his only design within the Vakka-Suomi region.

Sonck, who is best known for his ecclesiastical and urban architecture, has designed e.g. St Michael’s Church in Turku, the Tampere Cathedral, and the Helsinki Stock Exchange. Other well-known designs of his are Ainola, the home of the composer Jean Sibelius in Tuusula, and Kultaranta, the official summer residence of the President of the Republic in Naantali.

Sarvilinnan sisäänkäynti

Like many of his contemporary architects, also Lars Sonck was interested in Karelianism and medieval Finnish fortifications. He drew inspiration also from the Tiuri Castle, which had been built on an island in the River Vuoksi in the early 1290s. Its purpose was to protect Karelia against invasion from the West. However, the Swedes demolished the strategically situated castle in 1411. The drawings for Villa Hornborg, with its national romantic style, contained features of the destroyed castle during a period otherwise marked by the art deco movement, which drew inspiration from exotic foreign locations.

The massive log building is a fine example of old-time villa life. The furnishings combine romantic nationalism and more streamlined modern style. The building displays the new form ideals of its time. Functionality and comfort were more important than sumptuousness. Sonck’s design contains a traditional dining anteroom and a large dining room with auxiliary serving space, but the kitchen comes also with a separate, handy utility room.

Irma Jalanne, a daughter of the Hornborgs, designed the metal chandeliers and wall-mounted lamps, which were manufactured in her smithy/workshop in Helsinki. Some of the furniture originate from the home of Alarik Hornborg. The furniture of the master bedroom, with its owl theme, was designed by the doctor himself and commissioned from a Mr Sysimetsä, a carpentry teacher from Pori.

Sarvilinna, owl beds
Sarvilinna, the Green Room
The colouring scheme of the villa is singular both inside and out. On the exterior, the brown logs are combined with white window frames, with astonishing blue shutters.

Many colours are on display inside the villa. All the rooms of Sarvilinna are different in colour and in furnishings, but each is designed to form a harmonious whole. Alarik Hornborg designed himself the fixed furnishings, such as the fireplaces, some furniture and the interior colour scheme. The fireplaces have been laid in accordance with the drawings made by Alarik. Most stones have been collected from the island itself.

Sarvilinna, the White Bedroom
View from the Sarvilinna tower

Photo © Jaanis Kerkis

Co-operation with the Finnish Heritage Agency

After visiting Sarvilinna in August 2017, Juhani Kostet, the Director of the Finnish Heritage Agency wrote: “Finland is full of fine architectural heritage sites. I had the privilege to visit Sarvilinna, in Kustavi, a magnificent creation of Lars Sonck’s. Sarvilinna was built in 1922 on a rugged, but beautiful island in the northern Archipelago Sea. The villa was commissioned by Oskar Alarik Hornborg, the City Physician of Pori, who had become friends with the Finström-born Lars Sonck. Out of that friendship grew the grand design by Sonck for Hornborg. The villa itself, constructed of round logs and still containing the original furniture, is a treasure. Sarvilinna was listed under the Act on the Protection of Buildings in the late 1990s and the Finnish Heritage Agency has supported its preservation and maintenance with modest, but important subsidies.”

Huvila Sarvilinnan sisapiha
Schematics of Villa Dalkulla and Villa Hornborg
Villa Hornborg – photo of an early sketch, Finnish Architectural Museum

Lars Sonck

Lars Sonck

The two major Finnish architects of the romantic nationalism era were Eliel Saarinen and Lars Sonck (1870–1956). The style has been the specific research interest of professor Pekka Korvenmaa. He is also Sonck’s biographer (Finnish National Biography Online, 1997–)