St. Lawrence Chapel
One of Helsinki’s special features is its location by the sea. Yet few buildings make use of this quality as fully as Löyly, completed in 2016 in Helsinki’s Hernesaari, which is under development to be a new maritime city district by 2030.
The building is located between future housing blocks and the water’s edge, on a strip of parkland running the length of the Helsinki peninsula coastline. This led the designers to contemplate a solution that would be closer to landscape sculpture than a house – a concept that has been executed with outstanding success. The wooden surface will acquire grey patina over time, so that, from a distance, it will look like one of the bare granite rocks emblematic of the Finnish coastline.
The building is a mound clad in glulam planks that beautifully reflect the light thanks to their triangular profile. The slats provide discrete privacy to those using the saunas while allowing a sea view from inside. The horizon is visible from almost all indoor spaces and the views can also be taken in from the staggered lookout decks on the roof.
There are three saunas, one of which – the traditional smoke sauna – is accessed from the outside. The fact that the sauna is, for fire safety reasons, built inside a concrete bunker is completely inconspicuous when lingering in the long-lasting sweetly scented steam of the smoke sauna.
The location of the sauna complex was originally decided upon with the cruise ship quays in mind. The building has since become an important landmark for Helsinki residents and visitors alike. It epitomises one of the crucial roles of architecture: to modify the environment in a way that provides enjoyment.
The Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2016 shortlist