“The Finnish sauna is enjoyed for its physical and mental health benefits, for socializing and relaxing. Modern sauna buildings often allow architects to experiment with new methods and design ideas using wood. This is also the case with the Moisala Sauna.
The Moisala Sauna is a new sauna for a private client, located on the banks of Siikajoki river in the north of Finland. Architect Lauri Louekari did research on different log structures and Chinese traditions as part of the design process. The special feature in the Moisala Sauna is a round opening in the main facade looking towards the river. Through this opening people can go and swim in the river during the sauna – an essential part of the sauna ritual. Similar openings are very common in ancient Chinese architecture, where round, moon shape gates symbolize the perfection of life, fulfilment and family re-union. These very elements are present in the Finnish sauna ritual as well.
It is hard to make log-structures with big windows, as the log frame tends to move with time, weather and temperature. For every building the architect must find the right solution. Architect Lauri Louekari and structural engineer Jussi Tervaoja created a new system for accommodating large windows. Sauna Moisala is a sophisticated log-construction, which allows the logs to settle after building has been completed. Nordic pine logs provide wood surfaces both inside and outside the Moisala Sauna. All the windows, benches and wooden detailing are of aspen, which is the whitest Finnish wood. Louekari searched for a clear contrast between the tarred, black surface of the logs and the clean, almost white colour of the window frames. The same contrast can be seen even between the tarred outside and oiled ‘natural wooden’ inside of the log walls.
The tar gives the log a very beautiful warm black surface. However, the use of tar is not common in Finland any more, and the tradition of tar production has almost disappeared. One of the few places where the tradition is still alive is Kuhmo, in eastern Finland, near the Russian border.
The Moisala Sauna has steam room for six people. For sitting, there are benches at two different levels, one for adults and one for children who usually want to sit lower down where the temperature is lower as well. The heated building-area is 16,3 m2 and the surrounding covered terraced areas are about as large, 15 m2. The terrace area is used for cooling down and relaxing after the sauna. It is an ideal place to sit, have a cold beer and watch the scenery trough the round opening. The sauna proper is heated by a wood-burning stove. There is electricity only for three little lamps, one in the sauna, one in the dressing room and one for the terraced areas. Finns often like candle light when they bathe in the sauna.
The Moisala Sauna
Design: Lauri Louekari Architects
Size: 16,3 m2
Location: Siikajoki, North of Finland
Client: Private client
Year of completion: 2013″