In the home of the Northern Lights, Helsinki-based firm Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects has completed the Arctic Sauna Pavilion, a sculptural and sustainable sauna in Lapland. Built with over 95% locally sourced materials, the compact building minimizes its carbon footprint in its construction and design, which follow passive energy principles. Large windows frame views of the Finnish landscape as well as the midnight sun in the North.

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an angular black wood building in the middle of a snowy forest

Completed last year, the Arctic Sauna Pavilion includes a main living space, sauna and outdoor terrace across 30 square meters. To support the local economy, the architects built the timber-framed structure using materials that were sourced, processed and constructed locally. Construction waste was reused for heating and cooking, while any compost is used as fertilizer in the surrounding gardens. 

an angular building with a black wood facadel, light wood accents and an open entrance area in the middle of a snowy forest

“In terms of massing and horizontal orientation, the building is a fusion of two geometrical orders: it follows the regular orthogonal geometry of the existing built context in the northern hill side, but in the southern lake side it takes reference of the organic geometry of the natural shoreline,” the architects noted. Mimicking the traditional storage buildings of Lapland, the walls of the sculptural building tilt outwards to prevent the accumulation of water.

Related: The Haeckels Victorian-style bathing machine has a sauna inside

interior of a wood building with a window that looks out on a snowy forest

Timber wraps the interior for a welcoming feel that imparts a sense of warmth even in the unheated main space where the cooking and dining areas are located. In summer, this multipurpose living space can be expanded to include a covered, lake-facing outdoor terrace through sliding doors. Reflected sunlight from the lake’s surface bounces off the sloped ceiling to bring daylight indoors. Next door, the sauna is split into two rooms to save on resources and to follow the principle of natural airflow: a bathing section is located on the cooler lower level, while the sauna is placed above to retain the hot steam. 

+ Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects

Images via Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects