Can an egg-shaped sauna—and a good schvitz—stimulate meaningful dialogue about natural resources? One Swedish design duo thinks so.
Design team Bigert & Bergström created a “Solar Egg” sculpture and sauna to serve as both a public artwork and a space for local discourse in a small Swedish town. The experiment was so successful that the sauna-sculpture went on a global tour.
Commissioned by Swedish housing company Riksbyggen, the reflective egg-shaped unit was first installed in Sweden’s northernmost town, Kiruna. It was created to help citizens of the town discuss a unique shared experience: The town is currently being moved so a mining company can access a seam of iron ore that lies directly beneath it.
Swedish officials consider the move crucial, as iron is one of Sweden’s most important resources. But, as you might expect, the move has inspired conflicting feelings among the town’s citizens. The sauna sculpture was designed to serve as a kind of town center for locals to share their thoughts on the radical change to their home.
The Solar Egg’s exterior is constructed from polygon panels of stainless, golden-mirror sheeting that beautifully reflect whatever environment it happens to be in. The region has a strong sauna tradition and, like many of the most classic saunas, Solar Egg is lined with slats of natural pine. It also has the added touch of housing a heart-shaped stove in the center that helps keep the interior a toasty 167 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Appropriately, this stove is made from a mix of stone and the very iron that prompted this project’s genesis.
First made available for public use in 2017, the Solar Egg has been crisscrossing the globe since, moving from Paris to Minneapolis to Copenhagen. Now, the unit will stay in Sweden for a stint at the famous Icehotel where it will surely provide warmth and conversation to visitors experiencing the area’s frigid conditions.