In case you had any doubts about Finland as the world leader in modern sauna architecture, the country’s southern capital recently opened its first fire-heated public sauna. And it’s a beaut.
Sitting in a steamy room is an integral element of Finnish life, and the country is home to some 3.3 million private saunas. Like the typical home sauna, Löyly is a sweltering structure heated by wood smoke. Unlike the typical private sauna, it’s got a large indoor restaurant and built primarily out of panels made from eco-friendly waste wood. More than 4,000 custom-cut planks form the building’s facade.
The shape of the wooden structure was inspired by the form of a mountain, even though Finland is notoriously flat, and visitors are encouraged to climb its exterior like a hillside. The building was designed to integrate with the surrounding park running along the coast of the Gulf of Finland.
In the winter, a hole is cut into the ice of the adjacent bay so that visitors can hop between enveloping heat and blood-chilling cold.