Suspended above the river Elbe, a simple wooden cube hangs from an abandoned bridge. The structure, executed by H3T architects, was crafted hastily from cheap and recycled materials, but this cube is not intended to remain intact for more than a couple of weeks. While it stands, visitors are encouraged to gather firewood from the surrounding wilderness, hoist themselves through a trap door accessible only by boat, and enjoy the pleasures of an aerial sauna.
Called the Flying Sauna, H3T warns potential visitors to proceed with caution when attempting to use it, noting that the underlying river’s current is strong. Indeed, the bridge that it hangs from marks the site of a weir that was dismantled during the mid-1970s. The sauna is meant to serve as a way of calling attention to the abandoned structure.
The Flying Sauna is the Czech studio’s second public sauna project. In 2009, H3T erected Sauna on the Water, a four-day construction project that produced a floating steel and plywood cube with a cast iron stove installed for heat. H3T advises using the saunas by moonlight in order to emphasize the contrast between the “beautiful lantern light” and the glistening lake. Both projects are a certainly a far cry from the glossy, tiled saunas that accompany many modern gyms and swimming pools. Instead, the humble cubes are reminiscent of traditional saunas that interact with their natural settings, whether they were burrowed into an earthen pit or built entirely from stone and wood. By reclaiming the origins of the sauna, H3T has managed to celebrate the natural and the manmade simultaneously.