Europe Glamping

Luxury floating sauna with views of the Northern Lights graces shores in Norway

Located in the middle of Tromsø Harbour in Norway, a luxury floating sauna offers visitors a chance to relax and enjoy unique views of the Northern Lights. Elegantly adorning the stunning coastline of Tromsø, the architects and designers of the impressive project selected Kebony wood, a global leader in the production of sustainable wood, for the exterior façade, and both the roof and ocean terrace decking, contributing to the striking appearance of the sauna.

Handcrafted furniture company Ekte, sauna specialists Pust and Skapa Architects worked through various challenges over the past year to create the floating masterpiece which is seen by locals and visitors as a space to breathe, disconnect from the world whilst connecting with each other.

Over 2,000 metres of Kebony Character was used for the external cladding, the decking, both on the roof and ocean terrace, and most uniquely for the shingled cladding around the entrance to the sauna. Kebony was the perfect choice for the unique project as it complements both the structural design and the natural arctic surroundings of North Norway, whilst requiring little maintenance. In addition, Kebony wood will develop a silver-grey patina as it ages, helping the sauna achieve its goal of displaying a weathered aesthetic over time, without losing any dimensional strength.

Commenting on the popularity of the Tromsø Sauna, Kim Daniel Arthur at Ekte stated,“Seeing people enjoying the Northern Lights whilst relaxing in the sauna, or daring themselves to a dip in the arctic sea is such a rewarding feeling. To imagine that we built something that gives people a joyful escape, a little oasis in the middle of the town, is amazing!”

Erik Stange Ankre at Pust, continues,“The public has really embraced the sauna and made it a part of their daily lives. People come at all hours of the day: either for a morning swim, a lunch time bath or a night time session as late as10pm.The supreme finish provided by Ekte has really made the sauna feel like a little bit of everyday luxury for the people of Tromsø, and of course, the beautiful Kebony makes it stand out as well.”

An intense and collaborative project was run in building the sauna, where the lines between customer and provider were almost non-existent, with customers themselves making and installing over 1,000 shingles from Kebony Character in order to achieve the desired final appearance. Due to extensive planning and support from Kebony, and the other partners involved, the challenges of building a weather-resistant outdoor floating sauna were minimised and all project goals and timelines were met.

Commenting on the use of Kebony, Ekte added,“Working with Kebony, on short timelines, was a smooth experience where we got both technical help and inspiration from their previous projects. We are thrilled with how the project has turned out and look forward to working with Kebony again in the future!”

Developed in Norway, Kebony’s revolutionary technology is an environmentally friendly process which modifies sustainably sourced softwoods by heating the wood with furfuryl alcohol – an agricultural by-product. By polymerising the wood’s cell wall, the softwoods permanently take on the attributes of tropical hardwood including high durability, hardness, and dimensional stability. Kebony’s uniquely natural aesthetic and sustainable credentials were perfectly suited to realise the ambition of the challenging floating sauna.

* Kebony Technology 

The Kebony technology is a patented process which enhances the properties of non-durable wood species to give them similar characteristics to the best performing woods. Through a sustainable process wood species such as pines and non-durable woods are impregnated with a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste. With the addition of heat, the furfuryl polymer is permanently grafted into the wood cell wall, resulting in greatly improved durability and dimensional stability.

*Kebony Wood 

Kebony is suitable for both internal and external applications that demand high performance and great aesthetics such as decking, flooring, cladding, roofing, windows, indoor and outdoor furniture. Over time Kebony acquires a silver-grey patina whilst maintaining its performance characteristics. A study by Norwegian environmental consulting firm Bergfald & Co. demonstrated that Kebony has a substantially lower carbon footprint than its tropical hardwood equivalents, with improved durability and dimensional stability the wood is increasingly becoming the choice of leading architects and developers enabling them to use wood without causing environmental degradation. Kebony has been used internationally in commercial, public, residential and marine projects including the site of Youth Winter Olympic Games in Norway, Sweden’s first round Passive House, Rochester Marina in New York and the redevelopment of Cinque Ports Street, Rye.

Images: David Jensen