There are nearly 3 million saunas in Finland for a population of 5.5 million. Now one of them can be found travelling on a trailer across the British Isles. Finnish architect Sami Rintala and architectural students from the University of Westminster, in association with the Finnish Institute, joined forces to create a one-of-a-kind sauna. Its shape was inspired by the London tube, and it is built with Finnish pine wood – traditional methods mixed with new forms.

I wanted the visual identity to reflect the calming elements of the sauna: wood, water, fire and stones. Natural mindfulness. For a Finn, the sauna is a spiritual place. Before accessible hospitals, it was the sterile place where we were born. Sauna is where a stereotypically quiet nation opens up about their worries, where generations feel rooted and where we stop for a moment of calm.


The Finnish Sauna


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The Architect Sami Rintala talks about the project:

“We like to work with the students and teach architecture in the best possible way, which is by doing. We worked with very precisely milled wood, and when you are setting the structure together you need the same precision in the setting. Precision is a beautiful thing but it also presents challenges. Wood is not a precise, it’s a living material, it bends, warps. It makes this project more like furniture making in big scale, as we are not using sawn timber.”

The same concept of a 'living shape' is represented in the visual identity by the wavy lines - they reflect the way we soften, open up and move our mood in a sauna. And of course, they show the steam from löyly*!

*Hmm, there's no English words for that, so here's a long translation: the steam that rises from the sauna stove.

We have developed an excellent partnership with Emmi Salonen (Studio Emmi), and her dedication to our collaboration was wonderful. Emmi's attention to detail and creative approach, when bringing the visual identity of the Finnish Sauna project to life, was exceptional.

Neicia Marsh, Programme Director (Society), Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland

Partners: Harvia, London Festival of Architecture, Westminster Council, Rento and UPM Timber, The Embassy of Finland in London, Lumene and Kyrö Distillery 

Organised by: the Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland in collaboration with University of Westminster, Fabrication Lab and architect Sami Rintala