- City: Derby
- Country: Australia
Text description provided by the architects. On a lake, in a small North East Tasmanian town, floats a sauna.
The town of Derby was a booming Tin mining town from the 1870’s – 1940’s, then for decades it became almost a ghost town, is now home to Tasmania’s world-class mountain biking trails. The sauna floats on Brisei’s Hole, more affectionately known as Lake Derby which was formed through mining activities.
The project is made up of two shed-like pavilions floating on a pontoon, connected to the shore by a small pedestrian bridge. One pavilion is a changeroom, the second is the sauna. The concept was influenced by fixed parameters of the pontoon and glazing size, both items of which were predetermined. The design process tested numerous form options however kept returning to the simplicity of the two gables and the simplicity of the contrasting materials and the play of light and shadow.
Leaving your shoes on the shore and crossing a small bridge, guests can store their bikes and get changed before soaking in the heat of the timber-lined sauna. Taking cues from Derby’s contrasting history of boom and bust (then, fortunately, boom again) two black and white gable sheds sit quietly against the dramatic backdrop of quarry cliffs and rainforest. The huge quarry cliffs to the North of the site block direct sunlight to the sauna until mid-morning creating dramatic contrasting cliff face shadow and light with the high sun peeking its way through the wattles and lighting up the ever-present fog on the lake.
The material choice reflects its function. The dark recessive burnt larch offers solitude and privacy for the sauna. In contrast, a light-filled changing pavilion casts subtle silhouettes of the users within against the Ampelite cladding.
The design concept focussed on the sensory experience and progression of privacy and containment.
- Leaving the land, the first transition is from land to water.
- The timber batten fence and gate provide a physical barrier, once within the perimeter the user feels like they’ve entered ‘their own space’ separated from visible public tracks.
- The changeroom offers enclosure and shelter from the elements and privacy to undress. Once changed, users can sit in the sun looking at the lake, protected by a roof overhead but semi-hidden behind a white slatted screen – passing riders are visible and water lapping against the pontoon is audible.
- The sauna takes you to another world – solitude, and reflection. Inside the sauna, it's quiet and the change in temperature insists on relaxation. Everything beside and behind is removed and your focus is solely on the lake. Here, visitors experience an escape from their high-intensity mountain biking adventures.
- Finally, visitors can choose to take the plunge into the brisk Lake Derby waters.
The buildings float together in the landscape, offering a unique opportunity for isolation and relaxation. A floating sauna is a place of stillness and recovery - immerse yourself in the landscape, take a plunge, and re-center yourself.