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New European Bauhaus

Forest Sauna

A sauna in the middle of the woods?

Forest Sauna
Forest Sauna
© European Union, 2021

A sauna in the middle of the woods? 

Welcome to the Forest Sauna, a candle-lit structure with no electricity or artificial sounds.

Located in the small village of Spišský Hrhov, Slovakia, stands a public space inextricably linked to the community.

The project is part of the applications submitted to the 2021 New European Bauhaus award prizes in the "Regenerated urban and rural spaces" category.

Forest Sauna, designed by local architects and artists, serves as an area for residents to develop their sense of togetherness and awareness of their

At night, the sauna transforms into a lantern; visitors become flickering figures in a shadow play. As a result, the entire object becomes an island, a lamp, or a point of reference in the middle of the forest. 

A public crowdfunding initiative and a local construction company helped fund the project.

The entire construction was completed by a local building company run by the municipality, which prioritized hiring people from underserved communities.

The sauna is open to the public for free or with a voluntary donation. Users make reservations via an online form.

Villagers from various backgrounds currently maintain it.

The sauna's spatial idea is based on the Russian Doll theory: Two places, one put into the other.

The building's center is warm and has a dark ambiance provided by solid wood.

It is a human space in which the suppression of the senses, stillness, darkness, and intimacy, without any upsetting environmental stimuli, directs our attention inwards.

The mass of the wooden sauna is surrounded by a bright, diffused space, a void between the sauna and the outside environment.

A third functional layer is formed by the natural environment and the cooling water element, which provides the temperature contrast for the sauna cycle. 

The wood from the local sawmill was chosen for its sustainability. The sauna's materials have to be natural, renewable, and eco-friendly from the start,

The semi-transparent polycarbonate cover blurs the line between outside and within and serves as a prep area before entering the sauna.

📸 © European Union