Solar Egg (Public Sauna) by Ida Torkkeli
2017 - 2018, Golden A' Architecture, Building and Structure Design Award Winner
It draws inspiration from Kiruna’s Arctic climate, where light conditions change with the seasons from 24-hour winter darkness to round-the- clock midsummer sun. Kiruna is currently undergoing a radical transformation, which involves a gigantic move for the whole town. This is so that the mining company LKAB can extract more of the iron seam that cuts diagonally downwards beneath the town. The iron ore is and has been – ever since it first began to be extracted at the end of the 19th century – an important source of income for Sweden, and absolutely vital for the town of Kiruna. No mine, no town. But the breaking up and devastating transformation of the landscape, the environment and the architecture caused by the move are also sparking a lot of debate. Solar Egg has been made as a social sculpture where local people and visitors to the town can meet and, for instance, discuss these challenges.
The egg shape seeks to symbolize rebirth and new opportunities at the start of Kiruna’s urban transformation, a project that involves the relocation of entire city districts in response to ground subsidence caused by decades of iron ore mining. The temporary and traveling egg-shaped sauna is covered in stainless steel mirrors with titanium, gold-colour coating. It is only five meters tall and accommodates a handful of punters. Its interior is made from pine and aspen, and the sculptural oven in the center has been webbed from local iron and stones.
Design Challenges
What we found out from the research was that the people of Kiruna were afraid of losing the warm and friendly community spirit and that they have been overlooked. With those two insights, we came up with the idea to create a natural, warm and friendly place that brings people together.
Production Technology
The egg is made out of stainless golden mirror sheeting. The egg’s interior has been formed out of wood, with the wall panels and floor decking made out of pine and the bench of aspen. In the centre of the egg stand the wood-heated, heart-shaped sauna stove made out of iron and stone. The temperature inside the egg varies between 75° and 85° Celsius.
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