Sauna / Formløs Architecture

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Sitting on the brink of a waterfall near farm in central Norway, the sauna, designed by Formløs Architecture, is simple and sculptural. As if cut from one piece of wood, the sauna hovers one foot above the ground and stretches out over the water. The idea for the sauna came from a wish to bring festival guests together in an atmosphere where all social constructions from daily life can be forgotten and the opera singer from the capital sits shoulder to shoulder with the local farmer. More images and architects’ description after the break.

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Surrounded by dense forest you only hear the water flowing in the river and the occasional strike of the axe as bathers chop more firewood for the wooden stove. The site itself and the walk up to it gave inspiration to the design. Arriving on a tractor road leading from the farm, you have to cross the river on the farmer’s bridge to reach the bank with the sauna. This walk from the public to the protected and the entering of a closed room where you may well sit all naked right next to a total stranger gave us the ideas for the orientation of the different parts of the structure.

Courtesy of Formløs Architecture

The only window in the sauna room, sitting up behind the bathers’ necks, provides a view of treetops and the sky. The heat source is an old wooden stove from the farm. A small annex for changing clothes and storing firewood is added as a freestanding continuation of the main form. The annex floor serves as a bench for those who are out to get fresh air or who have just come up from the cold waters of the river after a dip. Once you close the door, it becomes darker, and all you hear are the sounds from the fire in the stove and the hiss of water thrown on hot rocks.

Courtesy of Formløs Architecture

The sauna is an insulated stud wall construction in spruce. The tight economy of the project resulted in outer and inner cladding both being executed with spruce planks of rough quality. This lends a rugged feeling to the building and reminds one of the local historical timber constructions. The building rests on pad foundations so as to make as small an impact on the ground vegetation as possible.

Courtesy of Formløs Architecture

The project was built with the help of skilled volunteers and was finished just in time for the Fjøsfestivalen festival much due to the fact that Nordic summer nights never get dark. FORMLØS architecture is very pleased to have gotten a chance to work so closely with the people who will use the sauna in the future.

Architects: FORMLØS Architecture, Alf Isak Nordli
Location: Loddgard, Norway
Program: Sauna
Area: 7 m2
Year: 2012

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Sauna / Formløs Architecture" 14 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Sep 2014. <>


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