Don’t be fooled by this tin-clad structure’s Star Wars AT-AT-like appearance—the giant building hides an unexpectedly delightful public sauna inside. Berlin-based design firm Raumlabor created the hulking metal giant, located in Göteborg’s free port at Frihamnen, as a means to revive the port with public space while preserving the site’s industrial heritage. The Göteborg’s Bathing Culture project was constructed with help from the community and was made from locally sourced recycled and upcycled materials.
Although the saunas we’re used to are made from wood, Raumlabor chose instead to clad the outside of Göteborg’s public sauna with rusty corrugated iron and recycled building materials to match its port surroundings. The local materials pay homage to the heritage and culture of the port, which is currently undergoing urban renewal and is steadily losing its industrial character. In contrast to the cold-looking facade, the unusually shaped interior is completely covered in large larch shingles for a warm and welcoming appearance. Large rectangular windows frame views of the water and let natural light in.
With help from the community, Raumlabor also added a wooden boardwalk that leads to changing rooms clad in rusted steel and shower rooms with walls made up of stacked recycled glass bottles to let in light. The freestanding structure is accessed via a short bridge and was developed as part of a new envisaged Jubilee Park.
“Establishing bathing in this rough and hostile environment is, above all, a way to change the perception of it: creating intimate spaces, new leisure experiences and the opportunity for communication between different groups of people,” writes Raumlabor. “Since water pollution does not allow, for the moment, direct bathing activities in the docks, the establishment of Bathing Culture activities will generate a form of prediction for the future of this particular setting.”
Images via Raumlabor