Löyly Public Sauna
By Kirsten Kiser
Löyly is located in Hernesaari, a former industrial area on the Helsinki seashore that is being developed into a residential area. New uses are being developed for the area, while waiting for future changes to come.
The site is unique. Being less than two kilometers away from the city center, it is very central but at the same time the landscape is like in 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.
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, provides visual privacy but do not limit the sea view from inside.
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. Moreover, the stepped cloak forms stairs to climb on to the roof and look out terraces on top of the building.
The construction forms a big outdoor auditorium for the future marine sports center’s activities on the sea. There are 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.
The building consists of two parts: public saunas and a restaurant. The interior architecture of the restaurant and the sauna lounge is by Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio. The objective of the design was to create an atmospheric restaurant that compliments the strong architecture of the building. The main materials used in the interiors are black concrete, light Scandinavian birch wood, blackened steel and wool.
There are three different saunas that are all heated with wood: a continuously heated sauna; a once heated sauna, that is heated in the morning before the sauna is open and stays warm all evening; and a traditional smoke sauna – a true rarity in an urban sauna. Between the saunas, there is spa area with a cold-water basin and a fireplace room to relax in, between or after sauna bathing. You can swim in the sea and in the winter there is an “avanto”, the whole in the ice for winter swimming – a popular hobby in Finland.
The building is heated with district heating and electricity is produced with water and wind power. The building is first FSC-certified building in Finland and second in Scandinavia. Forest Stewardship Council’s certificate proves that wood material comes from responsibly managed forests. The restaurant serves organic food and sustainably caught fish.
|ARCHITECT||Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio|