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Atmosphere: A Revival

Sauna Installation, Melbourne Design Week 2020

Supported by the National Gallery of Victoria

Project Summary


‘Atmosphere: A Revival’ is a sauna installation as part of Melbourne design Week 2020. The work seeks to promote individual and social wellbeing through the revival of bathing culture along the Yarra River.

A temporary re-activation of what was an iconic swimming destination from the 1920s-1960s, the project inspires ways in which the Yarra can be better experienced. We hope to open a dialogue about the role of public saunas in improving the health and wellbeing of urban dwellers in Australia. 


The design philosophy is centred on a blurring of the boundaries between personal and public space. The structure is designed to encourage visitors to explore the threshold between intimate social contact and inner stillness. 


Traditional materials are combined with more experimental ones so as to play with levels of transparency and obscurity. Such materials allow the natural environment to have a presence in the space, whilst maintaining an intimate and sacred atmosphere.


Designed to be completely off-grid, the sauna is a lightweight, prefabricated structure that has a sensitive footprint on the site and the environment. The structure is made from reclaimed timber, with offcuts from the construction process being reused to supply the heat. The flat packed design ensures that the sauna panels are able to be dismantled to allow for future reuse. 


As the Yarra River is currently not in a swimmable state, we built a ‘bucket shower’ on a refurbished diving board on the river bank where guests were able to cool off by dousing themselves theatrically with cold water. The design of the structure's slanted, extended roof allowed fresh rain water to be captured into a barrel positioned underneath, which was then pumped into the bucket shower system.

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