Skip to main content

Steam, sweat, soak, repeat – it can be be hard to truly improve the Finnish sauna experience. But designers have been experimenting with the idea of a floating sauna. Instead of paying big bucks to relax in expensive spas (where mystical crystals may or may not change your life), a return to the classic sauna – now bobbing in its own cold plunge pool – is making waves.

Seattle’s Lake Union has floating spas from goCstudio Architecture + Design (Handout)

Seattle

This August, look out over Seattle’s Lake Union for floating spas from goCstudio Architecture + Design. “We wanted to design something fun and recreational … that people can get to by kayak and canoe,” architect Aimee O’Carroll said.

Accommodating up to six people, the cedar siding exterior is built on an aluminum frame and stays buoyant with 208-litre flotation barrels. A ladder leads up to the roof deck for suntaning and the dock can moor kayaks and canoes. Designers used Finnleo, a Finnish company, to supply Nordic white spruce for the interior and an efficient Finnish wood-burning sauna stove. “People will be able to book it online and the sauna will be towed back to a marina for cleaning each night,” O’Carroll said. “But you have to bring your own towel!”

Wooden homes on Russia's Ugra River (Sami Rintela, Rintala Eggertsson Architects

Nikola-Lenivets, Russia

In 2008, a flotilla of seaworthy wooden homes floated down Russia’s Ugra River during the Kaluga International Festival of Landscape Objects. One of them – a beautifully-crafted floating sauna – stood out. It had a pine tree growing through it up to the rooftop deck and a dressing room with billowy curtains for privacy. Since then, the sauna and floating homes are rented out each year to vacationers to the artistic village of Nikola-Lenivets village, about 200 kilometres from Moscow. The sauna was designed by Sami Rintela and Dagur Eggertsson of Rintala Eggertsson Architects in Oslo.

“In time, the wood will become grey from river water and rain, and the sauna will have a lovely fragrance of tar and smoke,” Rintala said.

Bota Bota spa floats in the St. Lawrence and merges into the Lachine Canal. (Sid Lee Architecture)

Montreal

Bota Bota spa floats in the St. Lawrence (tethered to a dock) and merges into the Lachine Canal. It’s designed like a very modern ocean liner with 25,000 square feet on five levels. In 2010, Jean Pelland, principal at Sid Lee Architecture, Montreal was commissioned by the French Canadian Emond family to transform an old ferry, into a floating spa. (New gardens and pool were added this year.)

“The two Finnish saunas on the highest level, have become a ritual for many people,” says Pelland, adding it offers an almost panoramic view from the two saunas of Habitat 67 and Old Montreal. “Personally, I think it’s most beautiful in the winter – imagine having a sauna with this amazing clean, snowy view and just a gentle rocking on the waves.”

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Latest Videos

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies