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PARTISANS Grotto Sauna

Presently I am writing a book about innovative timber architecture and want to include a diverse range of projects. These range from large scale commercial buildings, sports facilities and potentially even bridges. However, there are also more modest designs including the phenomenal Grotto Sauna from Canadian architect practice PARTISANS. This appealed to me because of its eclectic aesthetic.

The Grotto Sauna is positioned on an island’s edge in Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada. From the outside, the building looks inconspicuous and actually looks like a geometric timber box. This was a deliberate strategy from PARTISANS who wanted the building to pay homage rugged extremities of the northern Canadian landscape. That is why they have used Shou Sugi Ban (Japanese charred timber) to clad the exterior. I am a huge fan of this weathered material and have actually used on the façade of my own home.

What makes the Grotto Sauna so special is the fusion of traditional craftsmanship and cutting edge technology. In contrast to the understated exterior, the interior is a complex curvaceous timber form. This feature is inspired by Lake Huron’s waves and the topography of the Precambrian shield. To achieve this PARTISANS had to take 3D scans of the challenging site and prefabricate components (CNC machinery) in a specialist Toronto facility.

If you love sauna’s I would imagine that the Grotto Sauna offers the ultimate experience. As well as escaping the harsh weather you can also appreciate spectacular views of Georgian Bay’s world-renowned sunsets. To optimise maximum energy efficiency PARTISANS have used a high-performance rainscreen enclosure, spray insulation system and high performance triple glazed glass. In addition, the faucet inside the sauna is fed by lake water.

Not surprisingly the Grotto Sauna has received a lot of positive exposure and won Interior Design Magazine Award Best of 2014.

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