Monday, 1 December 2014

S C U L P T E D ...

Text: Hina Nitesh
'A small cave, the kind of place where you feel comfortable, cozy
and protected from the harsh realities outside'

Grotto – definition (

A Sketch of the Grotto
The banks of Lake Huron on Bernyk Island, north of Toronto have been voted by the National Geographic as one of the best sunset sites in the world. The calm and peaceful site, dotted with large scale prehistoric rock formations, seems naturally designed for relaxation. So, it was perfect when Canada-based, architecture firm Partisans was asked to design a sauna here.

The majestic sunset

The architects were inspired by the concept of a Grotto – 'a cave embedded behind the curvature of streams, and thus discovered by those who would take the time to explore'. The 75 sqm structure posed a challenge for the architects as they had to not only respect the sensitive nature of the context but also respond to it.  

A large part of this free standing structure was prefabricated and brought to the site by a boat

The carefully thought of design offers unobstructed views and enhances the experience of the majestic sun set. Due to its specific properties, wood was chosen as the medium of expression. The design comprises simple panels of wood on the exteriors which blend in with the rugged rocks. 

Sky light brings in natural light
Drama unfolds as one enters the sauna and encounters sinuous organic curves flowing into one another forming the seating, the openings and the space. The interiors contrast with the rustic exteriors, transporting the visitors to a totally different place.

Organic curves help the spaces flow into one another

Cedar wood has been used for the interiors because of its resistance to rot, aroma, color and possibility of local sourcing. Adequate ventilation in the form of openings and fans have been provided to allow the building to breathe. Energy efficiency has been incorporated wisely throughout the design. Aluminum foil is placed between the wood panels and the surface on which they are mounted. 
Vents in the interiors allow the wood to breathe

As the architects explain, 'This allows for the wood to expand and contract evenly with even heat movement all around. The space behind the wood panels created convection currents that allow the skin to breathe through the ventilation pores that were carved into seats and seams of the cedar panels.'

Attention to details Image courtesy: www.

The design is a reflection of the client's wish to have a space, '...that each time they enter it, it’s almost as if they’re rediscovering the space for the first time.'

Cut outs in the facade offer unobstructed views

All Images: Copyright Partisans unless specified otherwise

Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat   

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