Politics hots up at architectural sauna installation in Norway

Politics hots up at architectural sauna installation in Norway

Rintala Eggertsson Architects and the municipality of Moss in Norway launch FLYT, an architectural installation that celebrates the country’s traditions of bathing and saunas, as well as its political history

A project straddling art and design, a new architectural installation in Norway’s Fleischer Park by Rintala Eggertsson Architects has just been unveiled in the city of Moss in the country’s south. The piece, titled FLYT and comprising three pavilions, taps into the Nordic country’s long tradition of outdoor bathing (regardless of the temperature) and saunas. At the same time it gives a nod to Norway’s history and political system. The pavilions’ architecture was the result of a competition launched by the local municipality in 2018 ‘to revitalise a former industrial area west of the city centre as a part of its 300-year anniversary’.

Of the three pavilions, two are now open and a third is scheduled to be completed before the summer of 2021. The first two structures, elegant, timber installations located by the coastal city’s waterside, are conceived as bathing facilities. One functions as a diving tower and includes a lookout platform and a light installation. The second houses a sauna, which will be open to the public year-around.

Norway bathing installations by rintala eggertsson view from above with frozen sea
Photography: Dag Jenssen

The two elements are relatively small in scale but cut a fine figure in the city’s open waterfront horizons. ‘The installation has drawn inspiration from industrial structures in the area: cranes, chimneys, silos, gantries, etc, that have defined the cultural landscape around Moss harbour for more than two centuries,’ says studio co-founder Dagur Eggertsson. ‘The solution was to expose the loadbearing components and separate them from walls, floors, and ceilings in order to make them stand out as visually comprehensive to the public.’

The city of Moss played a key role in the history of the Norwegian state and the development of the country’s current poltical system, and the architects wanted their design to reflect that. ‘We wanted to add that as a layer to our installation by projecting a spectrum of colours into the top of the diving tower as a reflection on how governments come and go, sometimes represented by left-wing politicians, other times politicians from the right-wing, and often times by coalition governments of different sides of the political spectrum.’ 

Emphasising natural, tactile materials, such as wood, is a signature of the small but dynamic Oslo-based practice. It’s clearly evident in this architectural installation, which bridges the haptic and the visual, the functional and the conceptual. §

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