In 2015 I had the pleasure of visiting the first region-wide build by Serene Footman. Entitled Furillen, it was modelled on the Swedish island of the same name that sits just off the coast of Gotland. It marked the start of string of engaging and photogenic builds by Serene modelled after the more unusual places to be found in the physical world, the majority of which I have attempted to cover in these pages.
In 2020, Serene decided to take a break from designing public regions in Second Life – which while a loss to us all, was entirely understandable given the amount of effort required to bring his designs into being, from initial idea through research, design and construction through to opening. However, he is now back, at least for a time, and has opted to return to his roots (so to speak) once more, offering a further look at Furillen through the lens of his imagination.
For those unfamiliar with it, the four square kilometre island of Furillen is connected to Gotland via a bridge and a narrow isthmus wide enough for a road, and for most of the 20th century it was home a limestone quarrying before becoming restricted to military personnel when a radar installation on the island started operations in the 1970s.
Radar stations still operate on the island, but the restrictions on public access were lifted in the 1990s, and parts of the island were declared a European Union Natura 2000 area and nature reserve, affording them protected status. Two thirds of the reserve is covered with pine forest intersected by some marshlands.
Since 2000, the island has been the location for a minimalist hotel and conference centre owned by photographer and entrepreneur Jonas Hellström. A project headed by Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame planned to build a recording studio close to one of the island’s beaches as the first part of a broader intent to make Furillen into a centre for art and design. However, permission for this work was ultimately denied in 2010 due to the environmental impact the project would ultimately have on the beach and the island as a whole.
In his original Furillen build (see The beauty of a bleak midwinter in Second Life), Serene celebrated much of this – the old quarry, the hotel, and so on. For this iteration, he again presents these elements, but – in taking a look at the photographs of Furillen that can be found in places like the café house and the hotel, are much more closely modelled on their physical world counterparts. Also to be found is a nod towards the radar installation, thanks to the tall tower and squat station building sitting within the north-east corner of the setting.
However, this is no mere re-tread of the 2015 Furillen build; instead we are presented with a new take on the island, with a focus on the hotel and the quarry, the ambient sound scape offering a feel for the island’s nature reserve status. As with the previous iterations of Furillen, this is an atmospheric build with a marvellous minimalist feel to it.
This is not to say there is not a lot to see, but rather that Serene uses a measured eye for space, landscaping and placement of elements to present a place that looks and feels like a minimalist painting whilst actually offering a lot to see and photograph.
I really don’t want to say to much more – not because I don’t appreciate the region (the reverse, in fact: I’ve long admired Serene’s work and am hoping this will make the first of a new season of his region builds, as I’ve genuine missed his artistry in Second Life). Rather, I’d like people to see the build first-hand for themselves – but to keep in mind, Serene’s builds can be short-lived, so dropping in sooner rather than later might be worthwhile just in case. My thanks to Shawn (again!) for the LM and pointer!
- Furillen (Overland Hills, rated Moderate)