Strandängen Open-Air Bath House

Strandängen Open-Air Bath House

The day’s variations of light and darkness take centre stage in Jönköping’s new open-air bathhouse. The space is designed with all four cardinal points in mind, creating a unique and relaxing experience no matter the time of year.

The up-and-coming district of Strandängen on the shores of Lake Vättern is now getting its own open-air bathhouse. White’s proposal – which won the design competition – consists of a building made entirely from wood, which blends into its surroundings and offers captivating views of the area’s gorgeous natural scenery.

One of the jury members said of the design: “The proposal takes a good and clear holistic approach, offering a purposeful solution to the task. Analyses of the space and of the building’s architecture go hand in hand throughout. The proposal takes a carefully considered and poetic approach towards working with light/shade, materials, lines of sight, views, different spatial experiences and outward expressivity”

Client: Vätterhem and Tosito
Location: Jönköping, southern Sweden
Services: Architecture, Landscape
Size/surface area: 387 square metres
Project start/finish/status: Start 2019, scheduled for completion by end of 2020/early 2021
White View

The idea is for the building to be described by the light. The slats cast shade in a way that is constantly changing throughout the day. This makes it exciting to visit the space at different times and in different seasons.

Space for contemplation and conversation

A jetty stretches out and down towards the open-air bathhouse, which consists of two different bathing areas each with a sauna and changing room. Rather than dividing the two areas by gender, it is the experience itself and the views that distinguish the two zones. In the eastward-facing sauna, guests sit in rows, looking out over the water and watching the sunset through panoramic windows. In the westward-facing sauna, seats are placed opposite one another, creating a space for conversation against a backdrop of Lake Vättern’s southern shore and the city’s silhouette. Both sections have southward-facing sun decks in order to boost the number of sunlight hours per day.

A secure and secluded space

One of the challenges in designing an open-air bathhouse is creating a space that is both secure and secluded. Bathers can sometimes feel somewhat vulnerable when making their way out into the water to bathe. In order to ensure an experience that is as comfortable as can be, the stairs have been designed to take guests all the way down into the water. With their tall and closely positioned walls, guests are protected from both the wind and from the gaze of others. Recessed handrails and grooved wooden steps beneath your feet create a secure passage both to and from the water.

Bathers are given privacy at every step. The stairs offer space to hang towels or dressing gowns. We chose to make the steps wide so that several people can gather there. Guests should not need to feel cramped or have to wait for somebody else to make their way up first.
Josef Wiberg, Lead Architect

The interplay of light and shade creates a changeable space

The open-air bathhouse is located approximately thirty metres out into the Vättern, which means it is susceptible to the forces of both weather and wind. The building is therefore built from eco-certified and sturdy timber. This highly resistant material blends in with its natural surroundings and feels good against the skin. The wooden slats on the building’s façade create an interplay of light and shade that changes and evolves depending on exactly how light falls on the building at different times of the day.

Public spaces, accessible to all

An important aspect of the competition was to make the open-air bath house welcoming to all residents of Jönköping, no matter whether they want to get in the water or not. White therefore chose to create several public spaces within the building that are open and accessible to all. The jetty has seats that lead on down to a public sun deck.

For those who are unable to use the stairs, there is a recessed shallow pool that visitors can use to cool off in and which can be accessed directly from the two different sauna areas.

In addition to the pool and sauna areas, the bathhouse also has a longue area with a fireplace and space for people to enjoy a pack lunch. Views and daylight have also been key focal parts in the design of this area as well. These spaces can be hired together or separately – without impacting other parts of the building or its activities.


New meeting spaces in the surrounding area

Beyond the building itself, White’s design also proposed a transformation of the adjacent surroundings. Several public sun decks will be built next to the building, designed to best take advantage of the day’s sunlight, and without posing any harm to nearby oak trees in the area. The idea is to create new barbecuing and seating areas, sheltered outlook points and paths coated with rock flour for increased accessibility – all with a view to creating a space that is open and welcoming to everyone.

Contact & Team

Karin Jakobsson

Niels de Bruin

Oskar Nordström

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