Kiruna is the northern-most town in Sweden, and although summer temperatures can reach moderate highs of 20°C, harsh winds and residual blankets of snow give plenty of cause for a jaunt to the sauna. This summer, locals and visitors to Kiruna will be able to enjoy a unique sauna experience in the form of SOLAR EGG, an art installation inspired by the dynamic surroundings of Kiruna’s iron ore field, created by the internationally renowned artists Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström of Bigert & Bergström.
SOLAR EGG is an oval sauna. It draws inspiration from Kiruna’s arctic climate, where light conditions change with the seasons from 24-hour winter darkness to round-the- clock midsummer sun. The egg shape seeks to symbolise rebirth and new opportunities at the start of Kiruna’s urban transformation, a project that involves the relocation of entire city districts in response to ground subsidence caused by decades of iron ore mining. This urban transformation project is being spearheaded by urban development company, Riksbyggen, which is taking an innovative approach to sustainability and long-term relations with local residents.
“We want the SOLAR EGG to be an artistic attraction for everyone and a conversation catalyst.” - Mathias Sandberg, Riksbyggen
The SOLAR EGG has a shell of gold-plated stainless steel that reflects the city and surrounding countryside. Consisting of 69 separate pieces, the installation can be taken down and moved to different locations within the city. Inside, heat is provided by a heart-shaped wood-fired burner.
“Saunas are places that fascinate. When Riksbyggen asked us to interpret Kiruna, we felt it was natural to explore a space that unites and encourages conversation,” say artists Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström. “Saunas are sacrosanct places where you can discuss all manner of things – from the big to the small.”
Bigert & Bergström have a longstanding fascination with humanity’s relationship to climate, nature, energy and technology. After gaining international prominence with their climate chamber designed for World Expo in Lisbon in 1998, they have worked across multiple artistic formats – from sculpture and film to performance. In 2015, they covered the peak of Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, with an insulating coat to examine whether geo-engineering could help to slow glacial melting.
Members of the public can book the sauna online at www.riksbyggen.se/solaregg. Riksbyggen will provide changing facilities, towels and other services in cooperation with Camp Ripan.
A special international stop is planned at the end of the year – SOLAR EGG will be installed temporarily at the Swedish Institute in Paris, Sweden´s only cultural centre abroad, in collaboration with Swedish Design Moves – a governmental initiative to promote Swedish design, architecture and fashion internationally.
Bigert & Bergstrom: bigertbergstrom.com
Photos © Jean-Baptiste Béranger