Aalto Art and Design Cases

Finnish Rooftop Sauna

A group of Aalto University MA students led by two tutors designed and constructed a sauna on the roof of the Southbank Centre in central London.
Finnish Rooftop Sauna 1

A Finnish sauna was located in the heart of London, shimmering on evening light on the banks of the River Thames. The sauna was the result of Aalto University's and Southbank Centre's co-operation project. The sauna was located on the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof terrace in Southbank, London was an interesting sample of Finnish design skills, combining architecture, design and art. The Finnish Rooftop Sauna was a result of cooperation by Aalto University and Southbank Centre and it was designed and implemented in collaboration with Aalto University MA students Pedro Pablo Garcia Alcazar, Markus Holste, Monica Romagnoli and Miki Sordi, and Finnish sculptor Jaakko Pernu. The tutors were professors Pentti Kareoja and Ville Kokkonen. The sauna was open until 31 January  2018.

The architecture of the sauna was based on a wooden frame structure which is repeated, thus creating a longitudinally-oriented building suitable for the location. The structure was covered with translucent polycarbonate plates that were illuminated. The idea was to create a bright landmark for London's winter nights. The interior functioned proceed from both ends following the sauna rituals, ending in a common sauna in the middle of the building. There users could face each other, sculptor Pernu's work and views over the River Thames.

The Finnish rooftop sauna was part of a Nordic Matters exhibition in the Southbank Centre. The exhibition raised awareness of the Nordic countries, that have long been ranked as the most livable societies and recognised for being at the forefront of social change. Southbank Centre presents what’s happening in Nordic art and culture. Nordic Matters exhibition had chosen interesting topics and phenomena from the Nordic countries to explore for over a year. 

Southbank Centre is a world-famous, multi-venue arts centre in London, with a year-round festivals programme. Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, founded with the Festival of Britain in 1951. The festival programme encompasses art, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, literature and debate. It reaches 6.25 million people a year, and encompasses over 5,000 events featuring world-class artists from across the globe. 

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