The Lonna Sauna is a contemporary public sauna made of hand-carved logs on the small Island of Lonna just a ten-minute ride away from the very center of Helsinki. Providing a chance to enjoy the special bathing experience offered by the wood heated sauna in the Finnish archipelago, it offers a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city and its busy everyday.
The Lonna Sauna is a new public sauna located on the island of Lonna just in front of the Central Market Square in Helsinki. It is part of the historical continuum of public saunas in Finland. On the border between urban and nature, with views framing the silhouette of the city on one side and opening towards the see on the other, the Lonna Sauna sits in the context of a group of historical structures from the 19th century.
The island used to be occupied by the military and has only recently been opened to the public. The old buildings are landmarked and the nature on the island is delicate and special. The Lonna Sauna is part of the unique environment of the island where the man-made meets the natural and enters into dialogue with it. With its traditional wood-burning stove it offers a great bathing experience allowing the bathers to enjoy the view of the sea while relaxing in the warmth of the sauna.
Public saunas were once numerous throughout the country, but now there is only a few of them left. Today, there is a renewed interest in the tradition and a number of new public saunas have emerged. The unique natural features of the Lonna Island give a special character to the experience of an urban public sauna. It brings together the calming experience of the sauna ritual and the social aspect of the public sauna. Located close to the city center, the island is accessible only by boat. Water separates it from the boost of urban life, making it the perfect location for tranquility.
The Lonna Sauna draws from the tradition of the sauna as a ritual for purification of both body and mind while simultaneously offering an urban interpretation of it responding to the need to find a peaceful space of retreat in the context of city life. Fitting the new structure carefully in the context of the old buildings, the sauna made of hand-carved logs respects the delicate nature of the island. The wood-heated, loft type sauna with stoves that are loaded from the outside follows the tradition of the Finnish sauna. Yet, the large windows with views opening to the sea give a contemporary expression to it.
Wood is a locally available sustainable material that is traditionally used for saunas. The minimalist design of the Lonna Sauna works in harmony with the delicate nature of the island. The compact 190 m2 structure is built with handcrafted, untreated logs. It has a sculptural pitched roof in zinc plate. The skillful use of larch in the furnishings and the large windows opening a view into the archipelago create a relaxing atmosphere.
The sauna rooms are composed of two levels, with the heat rising up and leaving the lower level with a more moderate temperature. On the upper level, you can relax in the warmth and enjoy the views, while the area for bathing is located in the lower level. The sauna rooms are complemented with dressing rooms and a terrace facing the sea as well as an outdoor shower space that bridges the sauna with the seashore. There are separate, identical parts for men and women.
There is a space for storing the wood for heating the sauna near the stoves that can be loaded directly from the outside. The heating of the wood-burning sauna takes several hours, and a caretaker prepares the saunas daily. Each week the sauna needs to rest for two days to avoid over-heating.