Swedish eco cool

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Swedish eco cool

Ask any Swede and their face will light up when they talk about Gotland. Located about 90km off the Swedish mainland, the island is easily accessible by ferry and once you're there you can rent a bike to get around (watch out for sheep in the road though)...

With its miles and miles of limestone cliffs, forests and deserted beaches, Gotland is not only rugged and beautfiul, it is also extremely eco-friendly.

I was intrigued to hear about Suderbyn - one of the island's new eco-villages set up in 2008 just outside of the capital of Visby. Residents here can enjoy simple, sustainable housing made from materials such as straw-bales and clay. The community aims to be 100% self sufficient - producing its own food and generating its own energy using solar power, wind turbines and wooden pellets for heating.

Artists and designers have been flocking to Gotland for centuries as land is affordable and there is no shortage of raw materials to work with.

Skulptur Fabriken is one of the island's many design collectives. Set up by sculptor and designer, Stina Lindholm, the 'sculpture factory' produces functional handcrafted products such as benches, ceramics and tables made from locally sourced stone. Stina's scultpure garden is also well work a visit in summer...

Another interesting group is the Levahusfabrik (the living house factory) which specialises in producing high quality sustainable housing from solid spruce. The architecture is simple so that it doesn't overpower the natural environment. Best of all you can also get creative and adapt the structures to suit your changing needs over time.

If you're planning a visit to Gotland, May - September is probably your best best. Happy travels :-)

(Above first Skulptur Fabriken and then Levahusfabrik - 'The Living House Factory')