Karlshamns Kallbadhus

Karlshamns Kallbadhus

The tradition of visiting the kallbadhus – cold water bathhouse – runs deep in Nordic cultures. Karlshamns Kallbadhus offers a rare interpretation of the traditional kallbadhus experience, allowing every visitor to participate in this ritual of wellbeing, all year round.

A new type of Swedish bathhouse

Kallbadhusets Vänner – Friends of the Bathhouse, a local organisation of swimming enthusiasts, together with the municipality and private sponsors, raised the funds needed to realise their vision for a year-round bathhouse. The design of Karlshamns Kallbadhus is a radical departure from the Swedish bath house vernacular. The building is akin to a flying saucer with its massing, slender legs and extended walkway. Rising three metres above sea level, the walkway, supported by two Glulam timber beams, invites visitors in. The wooden structure features an angular plan that places the main public areas towards the sea to offer the best views of the archipelago.

Client: Kallbadhusets Vänner
Location: Karlshamn, Sweden
Status: Completed 2015
Area: 200 sqm
Cost: 8 million SEK
Awards: Karlshamns Stadsbyggnadspris 2015 (Urban Planning Award 2015)
Visuals: Bert Leandersson, Mats Ek

Whether on the sun deck, in the sauna or common room, optimising the spectacular views was a driving factor for design.
The enticement lies in the fact that it isn't a traditional romantic ‘gingerbread’ bathhouse.
Sven Gustafsson, Project Architect

Floor-to-ceiling glazing lines the rear common room, incorporating sliding doors that lead out onto a sheltered terrace. On either side of the common room lie the male and female saunas, located close to stairs to provide easy access to the water. Sunbeds on the terraces and the stairs descending into the water have been oriented to receive as much sunlight as possible while providing shelter from the wind.

The large doors at the entrance are the only heritage-inspired elements, reminiscent of local barn typology.

The bathhouse’s distinctive geometric external surfaces are clad in timber panels. These have been treated with a grey-pigmented oil to protect and gradually reveal the wood’s natural patina. The dark hue of the exterior matches the rocks that line the shore, while inside untreated wood has been used throughout to lend warmth and tactility.

Short guide to the kallbadhus

1. Remove clothing to be at one with nature.
2. Relax and soothe tired muscles in the sweltering heat of the sauna.
3. Plunge into the cold waters, fully immersing yourself to boost circulation.
4. Enjoy feelings of euphoria and the wild beauty of the landscape.
5. Repeat process until mind and body are reinvigorated.

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