Furillen, Serene Footman’s homestead region has been on my radar for a while, having been labelled as “under construction” the first time I dropped in during November. This past weekend offered an opportunity to make a revisit to see how things are progressing, so Caitlyn and I headed over to look around.
The region is named for – and modelled after – a small island off the north-east coast of Sweden’s largest island, Gotland. During the 20th century, Furillen was a centre for limestone quarrying, but in 1970 it was taken over by the Swedish military to become the location for two air defence radar installations, the quarries being abandoned as a result. With the military presence now largely gone from the island, it has, since 2000, it has been the location for a minimalist hotel and conference centre owned by photographer and entrepreneur Jonas Hellström.
Serene Footman takes these elements from the original Furillen and brings them in-world to present, in keeping with Hellström’s approach to his hotel, a minimalist design shrouded in the bleak skies and heavy snows of midwinter, which is quite starling and captivating in its desolate beauty.
Explore the islands and you find not only the squat, angular lines of the hotel, but also other landmarks from the original, including the remnants of the old limestone quarries, complete with rusting heavy equipment, traces of the former military presence, and some other quite unexpected sights.
There is also a touch of the surreal to the design as well, something I particularly felt on seeing the door marked “Exit” in the south-east corner of the region, separated from the island by a stretch of cold water, and apparently beyond reach. This, with the presence of the Peatonville Asylum’s Queen of Denial put me in mind of the final lines of The Eagles’ Hotel California. Whether this is intended or not, I’ve no idea; although to me the echo of the lines didn’t seem to be entirely out-of-place.
Which is not to say Furillen is in any way sinister; far from it. As I’ve already noted, there is something remarkable in its desolate look. It is hard not to be drawn in to the rugged beauty of the landscape and the functional, stark lines of the buildings here. It’s an attraction that is very hard to leave behind, as I’ve discovered for myself, having bounced back a number of times throughout the weekend and since.
Serene Footman plans to keep Furillen going for as long as there is an interest in visiting the region, and has indicated he’ll be adding to it and changing things as the mood takes. So, if you do visit and find yourself as captivated as I, do please consider leaving a donation at one of the tip jars to help towards running costs. And to fully experience the region, do take time to listen to the accompanying music stream, which adds further depth to the region as one explores.
- Furillen (Rated: Moderate)