Collage of student projects resulting from the design sprint
The architecture students of the Estonian Academy of Arts are developing a new product range of outdoor saunas for Auroom brand in cooperation with one of the world’s largest producers of thermal wood and sauna materials, the Estonian company Thermory. The co-operation project is led by EKA’s new wooden architecture competence center PAKK established at the end of 2021.
According to Renee Puusepp, senior researcher at PAKK and senior researcher at the Faculty of Architecture, the involvement of Thermory specialists in teaching and the practical acquaintance of students with factory production will give future architects a better sense of reality and understanding of how the designed solutions are implemented. An in-depth knowledge of the production and execution process will help students to create higher-quality and more sustainable buildings in their future work, because factory production, like any large-scale industry, has its own characteristics and constraints, according to Puusepp.
Thermory has now selected a winner from among the four works developed by student teams during a design sprint for the ready-made sauna brand Auroom – and the winning concept is being implemented. In the course of further cooperation, the aim is to develop a product line with a distinctive Nordic architectural solution and design language, offering students the opportunity to put their ideas into practice and get to know the practicalities of the production company.
According to Andres Kangur, Marketing Director of Thermory, one of the important target groups of the company’s products is architects, and the logical continuation of this is to work more closely with research institutions and universities that train architects. “Our goal is to support the knowledge of young architects about the timber industry and wood enhancement technologies, so the common ground with the competence center of wooden architecture at EKA was already there,” Kangur explained.
Students of architecture, in cooperation with Thermory, will now further develop their concept, consider all the details of the solution, construction, critical assemblies, materials, accessories, etc. They will also examine market competitors and best practices. “By spring, we want to finish the design phase and start working on the construction and economic side of the project. In the autumn, we want to present the new product line at two major wellness trade fairs in Europe,” Kangur described further plans.
Wooden Architecture Competence Center PAKK is a research center established at the Faculty of Architecture of EKA at the end of 2021, combining research and teaching with new design methods, living environment and product development. PAKK brings together researchers, professionals and students from both the public and private sectors. PAKK deals with three major sub-themes: the green revolution in construction, the digital revolution in industry and new methods for designing wooden factory-built houses.
Thermory AS is one of the world’s largest producers of thermal wood and sauna materials. The company is also a leader in the sauna and spa sector, being the world’s leading manufacturer of sauna materials and ready-made saunas. 90% of the company’s production is exported to more than 50 countries. In 2018, Enterprise Estonia awarded Thermory the title of Exporter of the Year in the Enterprise Awards competition. Auroom Wellness is a brand of Thermory ready-made saunas, with which the company wants to export Nordic sauna culture outside Europe.
PAKK project manager