As the celebration of Finland’s centenary of independence draws on its conclusion, a Finnish sauna has opened on the banks of the River Thames. The project is a result of Aalto University and Southbank Centre’s cooperation and will be open until December 30.
The sauna is located on the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof terrace in Southbank. The project is a sample of Finnish design skills, combining architecture and art. The architecture is based on a repeated wooden frame structure covered with translucent polycarbonate plates. In the evening the building is illuminated, thus creating a bright landmark for London’s winter nights. The interior spaces follow the sauna rituals with entrances for men and women in separate ends and a common sauna in the middle where the bathers face each other and sculptor Jaakko Pernu’s artwork as well as views over the River Thames.
“It is a tremendous honour for Aalto University and Finland to get an invitation to design and implement a project like this on such a visible location in the middle of London. Sauna is often seen as a synonym for Finnishness and a huge amount of symbolism and expectations are associated with it. It is particularly gratifying that our students have, for the centennial of our independence, interpreted the subject with empathy and courage to re-interpret the traditions,” says professor Pentti Kareoja from Aalto University.
The sauna is part of the Nordic Matters Exhibition in the Southbank Centre and is a result of cooperation between Aalto University and Southbank Centre. It was designed and implemented by Aalto University MA students Pedro Pablo Garcia Alcazar, Markus Holste, Monica Romagnoli and Miki Sordi together with Finnish sculptor Jaakko Pernu. The tutors were professors Pentti Kareoja and Ville Kokkonen. The sauna is open until December 30.
Pentti Kareoja, Professor / Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
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