Photo: turku: obscura
For the Finn's, having a sauna is as essential as a cottage is to Canadians. So what could be more natural than a celebration of saunas. Just the ticket in Turku, a Finnish coastal city that is a European Capital of Culture for 2011 (along with Tallinn).
Artists have created four new saunas in the city, including the Sauna Obscura, which floats on a raft on the sea, the Solaris, which is transparent, and the Sounding Dome, which looks like a huge yellow garlic. Time to visit Finland...
Saunas in Finland are a national preoccupation. There are 1,212,000 saunas in private apartments and another 800,000 installations in summer cottages and public swimming pools. So that's more than 2 million saunas for a population of 5.2 million.
People endlessly discuss the heat, the brand, the quality of the stove. They are a symbol of cleanliness and a haven for harmony and relaxation. And they are healthy: great for removing toxins from the body, and stress.
So what have the artists come up with.? The Sauna Obscura is a raft where you can have a sauna whilst floating on the lake with the landscape projected on the walls of the sauna and your skin. Although it seems claustrophobic to a novice (couldn't they have a little window?), it is supposed to test "the borderlines between one's own body and the environment".
Photo: turku: the sounding dome
Photo: turku: solaris
Solaris is for the exhibitionists: a see-through clear sauna located in the heart of the city. No thanks.
Photo: turku: hot cube
Hot Cube is for the minimalists. Reached by a bridge, with no windows (again) the visitors can watch the water and fish through the lattice floor of the sauna.
All of the saunas are open for public and private bookings.
There is more to this celebration. A photography exhibition of saunas from the past, including some lovely ones of people cooling themselves by the waters. Others showing the role of the people who worked in them and the making of a bath whisk from birch branches.