Spruce Sauna

Spruce is a compact sauna designed to transition and relax oneself in an intimate and sensuous space in contrast with the picturesque and serene landscape of the New England farm. The sauna is comprised of a number of programs, from a dressing room, through a shower, to the steam room, and down into a cooling plunge pool. Each of these programs nest vertically inside the sauna along a serpentine path of stairs transitioning you up into the warmth of the steam. After slipping through a thick entry, the sequence begins with a dressing room. In this room, the humidity is above the occupied space, making for a comfortable and private undressing. Beyond is an enclosed stair that brings you up into a lightly steamed shower flanked with windows and louvers for a soft and indirect light. Upon cleansing, an inverted stair awaits, bringing you up into the steam room where a number of benches allow you to calibrate your exposure to steam. A sensuous undulating surface rolls the air from the steaming coals up across the ceiling, and back down to the seating. This ceiling continues throughout the building, bracketing the steam zone similar to an upside-down bathtub. The ceiling holds the steam at a specific elevation that one can slip above and below as moving through the programs. If a quick cooling is needed, a plunge pool awaits beyond the steam room with a cropped view of the sky. The sauna re-orients, transitions, warms, cools, relaxes, and most importantly, re-conditions one by overlapping and conflating temperature, humidity, compression, orientation, and image. Each stair produces a newly cropped view of the landscape foregrounding the overwhelming wooden interior. The unique opportunity of the sauna allows for a transitioning of programs through entry to steam room, with a continual cycle from steam to plunge and back, then reversing the order to transition back out into the New England landscape.


year: 2013
loca­tion: New England
site: Farm
size: 160 sqft
program: Sauna
mate­r­ial: Solid Spruce
prin­ci­pal: Brandon Clifford + Wes McGee
project team: Chantal Jahn