Organic Wooden Sauna: SAZAE by Kengo Kuma & Associates

WORDS Cheri Morris IMAGES Keishin Horikoshi

The centrepiece of SANA MANE, a glampsite set where sand meets sea near the small inlet of Naoshima, Japan, is SAZAE by Kengo Kuma & Associates; an organic wooden sauna with impressive wooden masonry.

150 layers of CNC-processed, 28mm-thick plywood are stacked to form a solid wood monolith that offers visitors a meditative cocoon. The design and plywood panelling – a complex structure of 1500 plywood sheets – form a spiral pleated geometry controlled by 3D CAD and programming.

Kengo Kuma & Associates

Inside, the pleats feature gentle curvatures that conform to the human body and only the oculus allows a soothing wash of soft light. Outside, an undulation of shell-like folds speaks to the oceanic surrounds and casts a shadow that plays throughout the day.

Unlike a general sauna, and despite the high ceiling, the temperature and humidity are kept at an optimum level by an average wall thickness of 450mm, the use of environmental simulations and forced ventilation airflow.

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