Wood in architecture
Helsinki || Finland
The project started from the city of Helsinki initiative. Hernesaari is 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 centre, 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 has several functions. It provides people with visual privacy. However, the lamellas don't limit the sea view from inside it, rather they function like venetian blinds and blocking the views from outside.
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. The structure protects the building from the harsh coastal climate. It shades the interior spaces with big glass surfaces and helps to reduce the use of energy to cool the building. 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 centre'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 saunas and public spaces open up to the sea, with interesting views to city center and even to the open sea. The atmosphere is calm and the spaces dimly lit. Different areas are conceived as spaces within a space. Interesting views open between closed spaces as you move from one area to the next. You enter in the restaurant that is a light and open space. From there a dimly lit sauna path leads to bathing area.
The interior architecture of the restaurant and the sauna lounge is by Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio. The main materials used in the interiors are black concrete, light Scandinavian birch wood, blackened steel and wool. All materials are durable and long lasting. The wood used is pressed, glued and slightly heat treated birch, a new sustainable Finnish innovation made of left over materials of the plywood industry that normally is burned to produce energy. This is how waste is turned into a beautiful recycled material. It´s manufacturing process produces a beautiful cool light color tone and heavy durability.
In addition to the long sofas, Laajisto´s office has used the glued laminated birch on walls, tabletops, the long bar and even in the unisex toilet sink.
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.
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.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Client: Antero Vartia and Jasper Pääkkönen
Gross Floor Area: 1,071 m2
Cost of Construction: 6,000,000 Euros
Architects: avanto architects
Contractor: Rakennustoimisto Jussit
Structural: Ramboll Finland - Hans Wilkman, Teemu Nyyssönen
Technical Systems: Optiplan - Jari Muunoja
Interior design: Joanna Laajisto Creative studio
Terrace sofa: Andreu World / Siesta Outdoor
Elevator: AMS Lift
Sanitary Ceramics: Duravit
Aluminium profiles (alumiiniprofiilit): Schüco
Photography: © kuvio.com, Archmospheres.com