When it’s cold and dreary outside, the relaxing ritual of steaming oneself in a cozy sauna is more tempting than ever. In some places, like Finland, there are almost as many saunas as there are residents, while in others, the tradition is disappearing in the bustle of modern life. These modern interpretations of the classic sauna aim to revive the practice by making the structures mobile, floating them on lakes or adding compact versions no bigger than bookcases to apartment interiors.
Cave-Like Grotto Sauna in Canada
For a private island north of Toronto, local firm Partisans envisioned a sauna that feels like being in a natural grotto in a cave. They used 3D technology to scan, model and build the sculptural interiors, prefabricated them, assembled most of it off-site and then transported it to the final location by boat.
Wa Sauna in Seattle by goCstudio
Cold and rainy for much of the year, and brimming with water, Seattle is an ideal spot for a floating sauna. GoCstudio “focused on primal concepts of fire, water and community” to entice visitors onto the lake year-round with ‘Wa_Sauna,’ a project funded with support of the local community. It’s a registered vessel now seen regularly on Lake Union and Lake Washington.
Vala: Floating Sauna in Estonia
Set in the swamplands of Estonia and built by a team of students, the ‘Vala sauna’ features a floating design emphasizing the structure’s relationship to water on all levels. Bathers can take a dip directly in the waters of the lake from within the protected volume, and then warm up in the enclosed sauna. The structure is designed to be mobile, paddled around on the water.
“The sauna ritual is intertwined with water – in this case, taking people directly onto the Soomaa streams which flood the roads, meadows and yards of Soomaa at least once a year, creating a new, unusual world.”
Gold-Mirrored Solar Egg Sauna in Sweden
Artist duo Mats Bigert and Lars Bertström present ‘Solar Egg,’ a public sauna installation in Luossabacken in Kiruna, Sweden shaped like a gigantic faceted golden egg. Its gold-plated stainless steel exterior is made of 69 separate pieces, and the interior is finished in pine wood, with heat emitted by a heart-shaped burner. The scheme symbolizes both rebirth of the district, and the region’s iron ore fields.
Bike Sauna by h3t architecture
In the Czech Republic, the sauna can come to you on the back of a tandem bicycle. Made by H3T Architects, ‘Bike Sauna’ is a compact cylinder that actually fits up to six people (quite tightly) within its translucent walls, and features a fully-functioning fireplace.