Le sauna de Veillac
by Atelier Ajo

Le Sauna de Veillac is a little participatory construction made by friends during the summer of 2020: a project designed in a simple way and built mainly from wood sourced from a neighbouring sawmill.

Grown out of a dream mentioned during a family dinner, the sauna is another intervention for a special site: Veillac, a family domain in the countryside of Aveyron. Among cows and meadows, it is strategically placed on the pond shore of a lake, facing the beech forest and the sunset.

The sauna’s footprint on the site and the environment is sensitive. Built on light foundations (micro piles), it does not impact the fragile structure of the dike and can be easily removed.

It is an exogenous object, resting over a light structure that supports it. The volume rises from the ground, gradually gaining height and importance. Two different levels of benches for different heat tolerances define the outer shape of the sauna.

The outside facade is covered with charred timber planks burnt in situ. The Japanese traditional treatment method “Shou Sugi Ban” uses fire to preserve wood, making it weather-resistant while conferring a strong character to the volume.

The inside, offering space for up to four people, is adapted to the dimensions of the human body. In contrast to the exterior cladding, light pine wood recreates the Scandinavian atmosphere.

The access staircase, free from the main volume, is an accessory that allows entry. With its mineral aspect (polished concrete), it is conceived as an independent element, related to the soil and its composition.

The interior of the sauna opens onto the lake and the woods through an oculus. From the outside, a unidirectional mirror attached on the cladding preserves the intimacy of the interior while capturing the distinctive land of Veillac. The sauna offers an experience of a new connection to self, to others, and to the surrounding nature.

The project includes a floating pontoon construction. A simple platform of douglas planks attached to recycled plastic barrels sails in the middle of the lake or is moored to the sauna, serving as a resting, gathering or diving place.

Author Atelier AJO (Alice Delattre and José Roldán)
Location Veillac, Aveyron, France
Year 2020
Surface 4 sqm
Client Self-commission
Photography Courtesy of Atelier AJO

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