Design by:

Raul Polding

Estonian Academy of Arts Tallinn, Estonia 

Hannes Lung

Estonian Academy of Arts Tallinn, Estonia 

The idea of a sauna tent started from a school subject called “Good Estonian design”. The task was to create something that fits in to our cultural space. We worked through our cultural heritage and got stuck with the question, could sauna be a part of a modern camping equipment. Sauna has a long-term relation to Estonians same way as to the entire Nordic region. Sauna traditions variate depending of the region, but camping with the sauna could create new traditions.

Our first task was to evaluate the space we need for four person steam room. We had to / create enough room for sitting and moving around, but stay as compact and small packaged as possible. Room shape was inspired by the simple dome tent, but with more vertical walls, to exclude the unnecessary space. Placing heater in the center of the dome, we bring focus to the circular seated interaction that helps people communicate with each other. Square base gives room in corners for sitting and 1,2m height holds warm air at the sitting position. Other and more complicated mission was to find a detachable solution for the heater. Sitting in a ring aesthetically dominates the heater to a round shape, constructed from a cylinder tube, with a welded bottom plate, chimney at the center and stones around the chimney. Stone cylinder and fireplace should be detachable from each other.

These where the specification for our first prototype. Tent fabric came from the local reseller and 3d modelling gave us sections for sewing. For fabric we used double sided taffeta, which molecular bonds are not broken before 160C. I’ts light for packing and waterproof for function. To prototype our heater, we reused an old gas tanks material for fireplace. It consists of separate base plate, round tube for wall and a top plate. Chimney that attaches to top plate, was constructed from short steel tubes. Tents fiber tubes are connected to the top of the chimney, to give the dome a stable construction. It needed stainless steel intermediate piece to prevent fiber from melting. All of this had to fit in to steel mesh made for heaters stones and to a hiking backpack sized bag.

Testing a sauna prototype, out in the wild nature, brings a smile to lots of faces. But a large issue with our first sauna tent sweeps our pleasure. Vertical walls and a square base loses the known dome tents aerodynamics and it causes problems with a windy weather. This leads us to a second prototype, where our tent base takes an octagon shape supported by eight fiber tubes. This gives strength, improves the aerodynamic properties and makes room for eight person.

Testing it out in a different conditions has been a great success. The equipment is small enough to fit into car luggage and light enough to be carried on a small nature walk. Mounting the tent takes up to 10 minutes and sauna on different locations always provides a new experience. Having no base in the tent brings nature straight into the steam room, and gives some playfulness by a choice of positioning.

Today we are building a third prototype to improve the sauna experience and work out some minor issues. On the third model we are improving the user interaction on the unpacking stage, trying to find more simple constructive connections of different parts. Also bring out more power from the small heater and delve into material science. 

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Posted by Solveig Jahnke