Sauna Pavilion

Sauna Pavilion in Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts by Artifact Design, 1999

The following text and images are by Artifact Design (now ck-a) for their design of a sauna pavilion in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.

The sauna's site was a small knoll at the end of a large open meadow overlooking a pond and its feeder stream. The program required the building to be present at the meeting of earth and water.

To mediate between the two site characteristics, we created a spatial zone defined by a grade change, a plankway for the cold plunge, and a screen wall. We pulled the sauna itself back from this edge and made it a copper-sheathed cube sitting in the landscape.

One revolves around it while proceeding through the ritual of the bath: entering, undressing, baking in sauna chamber, running to the cold plunge, scrambling out of the frigid pond, entering, etc. The timber frame and roof plane tie all the elements together.

Large areas of glass between columns allow visual continuity of the landscape through the interior.

Ed note: The sauna pavilion is featured in Hauser, a German design magazine, and XS, a Thames and Hudson book devoted to fine works of small architecture.