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New eco-friendly public sauna opens in Helsinki

A new, multi-million-euro public sauna has opened its doors in Helsinki. The impressive seaside centre features a restaurant and three different steam rooms, to please even the most discriminating sauna fans.

Rakennuksen suunnittelusta vastanneet arkkitehdit Anu Puustinen ja Ville Hara Avanto Arkkitehdit Oy:stä halusivat, että rakennus sopii sitä ympäröivään rantamaisemaan.
Image: Lauri Pönni / Yle

Finland’s capital city has a new feather in its cap, as the striking new Löyly public sauna complex opened its doors this week in the seaside district of Hernesaari.  The new venue is easily the showiest of Helsinki’s public saunas, with three different saunas to choose from, a spacious and sleek restaurant/café and several terrace areas for lounging.

Sauna is an essential part of Finnish culture and national identity. Public saunas used to be common in Finland’s cities, but now that most housing units have saunas of their own, public saunas have decreased dramatically in number.

Full steam ahead

Löyly (the Finnish word for the steam that comes when you throw water to the hot stones in sauna) is the city of Helsinki’s brainchild, designed to instil a sense of community and attract tourists to try the unique sauna experience. The project prioritized environmental sustainability from the start.

“All of the timber used to build the structure was FSC certified. The terraces are protected by a ‘flutter’ of wooden slats that provides visual privacy and shelter from the sun,” says Ville Hara of Avanto Architects Ltd, the firm that designed the complex.

Löyly was quietly opened on Monday, May 23, without media attention. The project's main investors, actor Jasper Pääkkönen and MP Antero Vartia, say they want to keep their 6-million-euro venue free of any elite stigma, to ensure that as many people as possible will enjoy Helsinki's newest hotspot.

Smoke and wood-burning saunas

Two of Löyly’s saunas, a traditional smoke sauna and a wood-burning sauna, are open to the public daily from 13:00 to 22:00, except on Tuesdays when it opens later, at 16:00. The administrators ask that people seeking to use the saunas arrive by 20:30 at the latest. The saunas are also warm on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 07:30 to 09:30. A third, smaller wood-fired sauna is also available for exclusive hire.

Both saunas can accommodate around 20 bathers at a time, and offer direct access to the covered outdoor seating area and the sea, where guests are free to swim year round.

Löyly offers separate changing rooms and shower facilities for men and women, but as the saunas and other public areas are mixed, the owners break with Finnish tradition and respectfully request that the facility’s sauna-goers use swimming costumes at all times.

The admission fee for a two-hour sauna visit is 19 euros. The price includes a towel, seat liner and shampoo and shower gel. A fee of 10 euros per hour is added for any additional hours.

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