The Aalto University Wood Program is a one year intensive, international program at master level on wooden architecture based in Espoo, Finland.
The focus of the program is the 1:1 scale design-build project.
This year the project is a smoke sauna at the site of Alvar Aalto’s famous experimental summer house on Muuratsalo island. Wood program’s smoke sauna will give visitors at the site a possibility to experience the special sensation of bathing in a smoke sauna.
The sauna has a long history in Finnish culture. It has been used for healing the sick, giving birth, and preparation of the dead for burial, but its most common purpose has always been for relaxation and bathing. Today we have almost 1,7 million saunas in Finland but the modern sauna functions much as it did hundreds of years ago: the stones are heated and water is thrown on to them in order to produce warm humid vapour known as löyly.
The most traditional form of sauna , the smoke sauna, was originally a log frame construction with a pile of stones used as a stove. A fire was used to heat a large mass of stones, leaving a black layer of soot on the walls and the strong smell of smoke in the air.
A design competition for the Wood Program smoke sauna was held in the fall semester, after which the entire program works together to develop and complete the sauna.