While San Francisco residents may some day be able to soak in a crowdfunded shipping container day spa, in Seattle it’s all about shvitzing in floating wooden huts.
An intriguing new concept that Seattle-based goCstudio plans to take to Kickstarter in the near future, wa_sauna is a small communal sauna merrily bobbing along in the shadows of Husky Stadium on Union Bay, a section of Lake Washington that’s certainly no stranger to floating structures: the ailing, chronically congested Evergreen Point Bridge — the longest floating bridge in the world at 7,580 feet — crosses the southern section of the bay as it carries SR 520 across the lake from Seattle to the Eastside suburbs. (As for Seattle’s iconic floating homes, those are predominately located on the other side of the Montlake Cut in Lake Union’s Portage Bay.)
Accessible by kayak and anchored in a “popular spot” within close proximity to the University of Washington, goCStudio envisions the floating sweat-shack to be a new kind of wellness-minded hangout where Seattlites can sooth sore muscles after a jog through the nearby arboretum, bid adieu to toxins while catching a beautiful Pacific Nothwest sunset, catch up with old friends (or meet new ones — Lisbeth Salander, is that you?) and, most of all, enjoy a “relaxing and reinvigorating experience out on the water.”
Positioned on top of 55 gallon floatation barrels, the volume incorporates a timber deck supported by aluminum frames. The interior features clear Alaskan yellow cedar panels with rows of seating facing an efficient wood burning stove. The stacked structure also consists of a roof deck with a diving board that can be accessed by an external ladder. The back of the sauna space has a cool-down hatch that can be lifted to allow air to circulate through the space.
It’s a lovely concept that I can see getting plenty of action during both mild summer evenings and a grey and drizzly afternoons in October — the moody renderings of the sauna somehow make Seattle's famously gloomy overcast skies look, well, attractive. I could also picture a small colony of these simple floating wooden saunas clustered together to form a buoyant bathhouse of sorts. For a full-Finish experience, an onshore pontoon with a vodka bar would be a nice touch — just watch out for the buzzed kayaker wearing nothing but a giant grin and a towel around his waist.
Aside from checking out additional imagery of the wa_sauna — if the funding goal is met should be docked in Union Bay and open for sweats later this year — it’s worth reading up on past goCStudio project including 2012’s “Spirit Pavilion,” the second place winner in the Transforming Seattle’s 520 Floating Bridge design competition. Aside from pontoon-based installations and floating saunas, firm co-founders Jon Gentry and Aimée O’Carroll, both formerly of Olson Kundig, come equipped with diverse design backgrounds that extend well beyond the shores of Lake Washington: Gentry is a partner and designer with the repurposed cardboard lamp wizards at Graypants while O’Carroll is an alumna of Auburn University’s Rural Studio where she was part of a small team that designed and built 2008's 20K Loft House.
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