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Elle Decor Italia

A public sauna in the Port of Gothenburg

Larch for the interiors and metal for the exteriors for the project Bathing Culture by raumlaborberlin

Bathing Culture is the public sauna designed by raumlaborberlin in Frihamnen, the Gothenburg’s port. The firm, based in Berlin, is a collective of eight architects united in the pursuit of collaboration and co-working. Their approach is transversal and interdisciplinary.

Talking about themselves, they say: "Our work includes architecture, city planning and art. We are attracted by difficult urban areas, where inclusion, re-qualification, and adaptation are needed". And yet: "we organize selected groups of experts for each project, in connection with external specialists. Our vision of architecture? In our opinion it is a tool to seize the great opportunities the city offers".
We interviewed them during their project's media launch in the former Swedish port area. The neighborhood is undergoing renovations, gradually losing its industrial identity, and hosts the new structure realized in corrugated aluminum sheets, reminiscent of a Brutalist sculpture. 

How did you come up with the Gothenburg Bathing Culture idea?
It was a commissioned work – we were asked to design and realize a pioneering project, based on the typical North European sauna culture, in the former port area of Gothenburg. We decided to involve the community in the creative and constructive process.

An ambitious project…
It was not easy to design a sauna, a warm and intimate space, in a harsh and unwelcoming area like a port.
Working with the community was very interesting, we involved students, workers, and anyone interested in participating. Thanks to this approach, we designed a project that was deeply rooted in the spatial and social context.

What is the project you most proud of?
Eichbaum Oper, the temporary transformation of the underground station Eichbaum, in Mülheim, into an opera theatre. And Cantiere Barca, a workshop in the Barca neighborhood in Turin. Both projects allowed us to transform the energy of an ephemeral intervention into a long-lasting process, thanks to community participation. We are not always able to solve the problems of the complex urban areas we work on, but we are very happy and proud when our projects succeed in changing something in the everyday life of inhabitants. That's the essence of our work.

What are you working on?
We are doing some research to design temporary accommodations in the former port area in Gothenburg.

Which is the monument you wished you had designed?
According to German tradition, traces of defeated political systems have to be removed. That's the reason why in 2003 the German Parliament decided to destroy the Palace of the Republic, the former seat of German Democratic Republic. Following the same logic, despite much protest, the Parliament voted in 2006 for the reconstruction of a copy of the Prussian castle. The monument we wish we had designed is the Non reconstruction Monument. A monument that leaved the area empty to let it be spontaneously transformed by nature.


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