Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

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Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

Avanto Architects : There are only 5.4m Finns but amazingly there are 3.3m saunas in the country. Public saunas used to be common in larger Finnish cities but now most new apartments have a sauna of their own and public saunas have decreased dramatically in number. There are only a couple remaining. However, as a sense of community is becoming a more and more important part of new urban culture, many new public saunas are being planned such as this recently completed project by Avanto Architects Ltd. With Löyly (meaning the steam that comes when you throw water on hot stones in a sauna) Helsinki will offer foreign visitors a public sauna experience all year round - a must when visiting Finland.

Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

This project started from the city of Helsinki initiative. Hernesaari is a former industrial area on the Helsinki seashore that is being developed into a residential area. The architects started the project in 2011 designing a temporary sauna village at the furthermost end of the peninsula. The concept didn’t prove financially sustainable so the first client quit the project. A floating sauna was developed with a second client but the concept proved impossible as the site faces the open sea and a floating structure couldn’t withstand high waves and pressure from ice packs. The coastline will change with future development, but the city chose an area where the shoreline will remain as it is currently. The architects developed a new free form concept with triangular faces. The client changed once again and as actor Jasper Pääkkönen and Member of Parliament Antero Vartia finally got funding, the construction works could begin.

Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

The site is unique. Being less than two km away from the city centre, it is very central but at the same time the landscape is similar to the outer archipelago. The plot is situated in a future coastal park that will be part of a broader “Helsinki Park” connecting the capital city to the sea. The building was designed to be slim and elongated so as not to cut the narrow park strip. The volume is kept as low as possible so that it doesn't block views from the future residential blocks. Instead of building a conventional building, the sauna is developed into an easy-going, faceted construction that is more part of the park than a conventional building. When the wooden building turns gray, it will become more like a rock on the shoreline.

Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

The architectural idea is simple: there is a rectangular black box containing the warm spaces that is covered with a free form wooden "cloak". Instead of being mere decoration, the sculptural structure made of heat treated pine has several functions. It provides people with visual privacy. However, the lamellas don't limit the sea view from inside it, rather they function like venetian blinds and block views from the outside. There are sheltered outside spaces between the warm mass and cloak to cool down in between sauna bathing. The cloak forms intimate terraces between its slopes that serve as a place to sit. The structure protects the building from the harsh coastal climate. It shades the interior spaces with big glass surfaces and helps to reduce the use of energy to cool the building. Moreover, the stepped cloak forms stairs to climb on to the roof and look out from terraces on top of the building. The construction forms a big outdoor auditorium for marine sports and the centre's activities on the sea. The project is made up of around 4000 planks that were precisely cut to individual forms by a computer-controlled machine. The big wooden terrace is partly on top of the sea and you can hear the sound of the waves under your feet.

Löyly - A Finnish Timber Coastel Sauna by Avanto Architects

Photo Courtesy : Kuvio 

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