Sauna bathing is an essential part of Finnish culture and national identity. Public saunas used to be common in bigger cities but now that most new apartments have sauna of their own, public saunas have decreased dramatically in number. There are only a couple remaining. As a sense of community is becoming a more and more important part of new urban culture, many new public saunas are being planned. The Hernesaari project is part of Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 program. With this project Helsinki will offer foreign visitors a public sauna experience all year round – a must when visiting Finland.
The Hernesaari area is a former industrial area on the Helsinki sea shore that is being developed into a residential area. New use is developed for the area already, while waiting for future change. The site is unique. Being less than two kilometers away from the city centre, it is very central but at the same time the landscape is like in the outer archipelago. The building plot is situated in a future coastal park, that will be part of a broad “Helsinki park” connecting the capital city to the sea. This is why the traditional sauna is developed into an easy-going, undulating construction that is more part of the park than a conventional building. The volume is kept low and elongated so that it doesn’t block views from the future residential blocks, or cut the narrow park strip.
The building consist of two parts: public saunas and saunas rented for private groups. Between these functions, there is a lobby space with a small shop and a café. The saunas and public spaces open up to the sea, with interesting views to city centre and even to the open sea. Serving spaces are grouped on the closed west side of the building. The whole building is covered with a wooden “flutter” that has several functions. It provides people visual privacy and sheltered outside spaces to cool down in between sauna bathing. It forms intimate terraces with slopes turning to the evening sun. Even though the lamellas don’t block the views, they shade the building and help to reduce the use of energy to cool the building. Moreover, the whole building forms an outdoor auditorium for the future marine sports centre’s activities on the sea.Location: Hernesaarenranta, Helsinki, Finland Architects: Avanto Architects /Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen, Architects SAFA Building type: Public sauna
Status: under planning process, estimated to be built during 2013
Gross Area: ~600 sqm (without covered space under the flutter)
Total cost: ~2,4 m€
Client: Sauna Finlandia / Ville Iivonen,
Assistants: Laura Nenonen, student of Architecture, Xiaowen Xu, student of Architecture