One of the old traditions here in Finland is the Smoke Sauna. This is normally a log cabin made from thick logs with a heavy brick or metal hearth above which there is a pile of heavy stones without any chimney.
Wood is burnt in the hearth and the flames rise up through the stones and fill the sauna with black smoke. The heavy smoke and controlled burn stops the walls and ceiling catching fire, and after two lots of wood are burnt, the sauna is quite hot (around 90C.) and filled with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soots and many other carcinogens. These are removed by throwing water own the stones and letting the air clear for several hours.
After that you spread out linen cloth on the blackened benches and enjoy a hot steamy sauna that has a glorious smell of fresh tar…
This traditional Finnish smoke sauna, has now been developed into a new form that fits a modern office space. the above sauna can be rented from a farm called Kattelusentila if you happen to be in Finland… https://www.katteluksentila.fi/savusauna/
This was the starting point for the cooperation of Woodartist, a company made top a a group of young male carpenters in eastern Finland and the video game company Supercell.
Supecell are just finishing off their new wood coated office building in the centre of Helsinki near where your correspondent is living – see above photograph.
The guys at Woodartist generated several initial ideas, but one idea just stayed put! He thought that a mystical underground part of a tree, nature’s own strong joint, deserved some publicity – the root of a spruce tree.
When it grows in the soil, the root reaches sideways and forms a natural angle that will actually be a part of the seat structure of this unique, most likely world’s only root sauna. So the bather literally sits on the root curve without any additional joints to make the bench. In the old days, this joint was used for instance in roof structures and for boats.
However, they did not want to cut trees just for the roots, so they came up a more ecological way of sourcing the roots. In Finland, spruce trees often fall on the borders of newly-cut forest areas, when the trees that are left are not used to the wind load. The wind-felled logs can sometimes be used in the wood industry, but in most cases they are burnt for energy.
They then used our social media and media coverage to ask for tips on where to find these storm-felled spruce trees. Eventually they received enough roots only from our region, so the seating will be built from roots that once grew in Rääkkylä, Kontiolahti, Kitee and Joensuu – all parts of eastern Finland alongside the Russian border! They selected some 100 roots whose shape would fit their purpose already in the forest.
The roots were cleaned and pre-sawn in the forest, hauled to their workshop, washed, sawn again, dried, planed, sawn once more, sanded and made into the bench shape. In addition to the roots, the smoke sauna spirit and earthy feeling in the sauna is being created with natural stone and a water element…
Photos from the 2 companies’ respective websites!