The circle-shaped Steam of Life Pavilion, co-designed by Helsinki-based JKMM architects and Sauna on Fire collective, was built at the Burning Man festival to offer a sequenced sauna experience as a deconstructed art installation. “Sauna” is the only Finnish word used in the English language and it is probably one of the most common comparisons used in Finland to describe desert hot conditions. In a land of 5,5 million inhabitants and over 3,2 million saunas, the Finns’ approach to the sauna is profoundly philosophical and strangely straightforward and day-to-day. Deeply rooted in Finnish society, the tradition of sauna stems from Finnish people’s closeness to nature and the country’s forests and lakes and has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. Even today, the sauna is at centre stage of all important events in life. It symbolises camaraderie, solidarity and the collective social domain. In addition to these social aspects, saunas are places for bathing and detoxing as well as private spiritual purging and peaceful meditation. They are places for both physical and spiritual metamorphosis.
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