It's not every day that a sauna can be compared to a true work of art, but the Grotto Sauna is one of those exceptions. Anyone who has seen the Bar Raval interior in downtown Toronto would be able to notice the organic style as the incredible work of the 2015 OAA Award Winning Design Firm, PARTISANS.
The beautifully executed sculptural form was inspired by the ebb and flow of the lake, as well as Italian grottos: hidden underwater caves with surreally smooth and curvy rock formations. The result of this influence is an interior of organic, rounded, flowing forms.
It radiates warm, cozy comfort, as well as idiosyncrasy. Even Gaudi would be impressed.
The curves allow for a seamless blending of the walls, the floor, and the benches. The isolation of the site helps create the atmosphere of the warm, wooden cocoon that the Grotto Sauna is.
What's equally impressive to the Grotto Sauna however, was its construction process.
PARTISANS used a 3-D digital model of the site to analyze, and strategically plan, the exact location of the building project.
The location of the site was specifically chosen to impact the surrounding environment as little as possible - a brilliantly elegant methodology of sustainability. What's more, the Grotto Sauna was positioned at an angle to maximize the sunset views from the windows.
In a beautiful wilderness like Georgian Bay area, it seems like all of the ingredients are present for a surreal experience of relaxation and beauty. The parts were manufactured separately using cutting-edge technology, shipped to the site, and assembled by a construction team. It was an exceptional display of innovative building science.
While visually very new-age and postmodern, the Grotto Sauna reflects an elegant, and traditional understanding of materiality. The light wood surface creates a relaxing, and fitting atmosphere for the surrounding natural landscape.
Very few people would be able to resist the temptation of spending a night in a place of such sleekness and style. Hopefully the Grotto Sauna will serve as an example of what is possible in today's architecture.
Visit PARTISANS to check out their impressive body of work.
All photos courtesy of PARTISANS
Researched and Written by Mikhail Shchupak-Katsman, Undergraduate Enviromental Design, OCAD University