In Development: Saunas

Recently at NewStudio, saunas have seen a dramatic surge in popularity. What seems on its surface to simply be a very hot room, is in fact a much more nuanced space.

  A 19th century engraving by Olof Sörling depicting bathers in a Finnish sauna, from volume 1 of Finland I Nordiska Museet by Artur Immanuel Hazelius.

A 19th century engraving by Olof Sörling depicting bathers in a Finnish sauna, from volume 1 of Finland I Nordiska Museet by Artur Immanuel Hazelius.

But first, a little background. While they were historically common across Europe, saunas (pronounced sah-oo-nah) are now almost always associated with Finnish culture. This is especially the case in Minnesota, where a large population of Finns settled in the mid-to-late 19th century. While often used interchangeably with the word “spa,” the term “sauna” refers exclusively to a structure or room where bathers are exposed to a very high air temperature, with or without the addition of steam.

In a residential context, saunas usually occupy a small footprint and have low ceilings to heat more quickly and efficiently. This box is surrounded by a vapor barrier and insulation, with the goal of containing the heat and steam generated by an unassuming floor or wall-mounted electric heater (wood-fired heaters, while a more authentic choice, are usually impractical inside the home and require more time and active tending to provide adequate heat). Despite the low ceiling height, usually no higher than 7 feet, significant heat stratification occurs between the upper and lower seats of the sauna. So much so that electrical devices like speakers must be mounted no higher than 24” above the floor to avoid damage.

Our current saunas in development range from a standalone, Northwoods design to a sleek, bathroom-integrated unit. As a culturally significant space with very specific needs, this is the type of challenge we look forward to, and a project type we hope to see more of in the future.

  Schematic cladding options by NewStudio Architecture for a sauna in northern Wisconsin.

Schematic cladding options by NewStudio Architecture for a sauna in northern Wisconsin.

Sports & Architecture

With no major disasters or messes, the super bowl held at Minneapolis last week was a success. The bold north theme was lively and welcoming. Despite of the cold weather, fans were seen roaming the streets of Minneapolis at Nicollet Ave. Mall of America recorded a 30% increase in its visitors last weekend.

Such international and local sports events have a major impact on the economic growth of the hosting cities. Tourists and fans contributes to the economy, more jobs are created, and public health is improved. Consequently, such events impact the architectural field. Major renovations, expansions and new projects develop to accommodate the increase in consumers. These development plans do not only include the sports facilities but also city attractions, accommodations, transportation, restaurants and retail business.

In 2016 U.S. Bank Stadium opened its gates to the public. HKS designed the stadium and was inspired by ice formations on St. Anthony’s Falls and Scandinavian Viking longboats.  Known as “The People’s Stadium” and home to the Minnesota Vikings NFL team, the stadium was awarded to host the 2018 Super Bowl.  Accordingly, the development helped reshape East Town neighborhood to accommodate new offices, retail stores, residential units and a new public green space on the nearby riverfront.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    U.S. Bank Stadium - Image courtesy of explore Minnesota.com -http://www.exploreminnesota.com/events/32053/super-bowl-lii

U.S. Bank Stadium - Image courtesy of explore Minnesota.com -http://www.exploreminnesota.com/events/32053/super-bowl-lii

Such leagues not only reshape cities but could also be the initiator of major decisions addressing global challenges. On a broader scale and as announced last September, the International Olympic Committee awarded the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad in 2028 to Los Angeles. LA and Paris as the former hosting city for 2024 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Olympic cooperation. Both cities agreed to work together on sustainability, inclusiveness and innovation. Historically, there were cities founded as Olympic cities and developed to accommodate the spectators and their needs throughout the short period of the games. Some of these cities never became part of the urban fabric, some got abandoned and others were reused and repurposed for military services or universities.  LA’s main concept is to use 100% existing and temporary venues with plans to reuse or return all materials to their natural state to avoid the waste.

LA already started their master planning and development of the whole city. The concept extends to four Sports Parks: Downtown, Valley, South Bay and Long Beach.  Each Sports Park includes a festive Live Site, sport showcasing, and multiple dining and retail options. More than 75% of the games will be played within the 4 parks offering the fans minimal travel options. LA making use of their existing venues including the Olympic city at UCLA campus along with renovation and improvement projects for existing metro line, Airport, arena, beaches, and convention centers. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    LA Master plan-image courtesy of www.Olympic.Org -  https://www.olympic.org/la-2028

LA Master plan-image courtesy of www.Olympic.Org - https://www.olympic.org/la-2028

Sports are fun events that gather people for entertainment and a powerful drive for change, raising awareness for master planning and addressing global challenges.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial

This year I had a chance to visit the Chicago Architecture Biennial that was held at Chicago cultural center. The word “biennial” comes from the Italian word “biennale” which means “every other year” describing an event that happens every 2 years. The first Art Biennial was held in Venice in 1895, "la biennale di Venezia” showing contemporary art work from all over the world and in 1980, architecture section was established which served as an archetype for architecture exhibitions.

The Architecture Biennial brings together architects around the world, it is a hub for inspiration and a host for art to merge and spread. As I grew and studied architecture in Egypt, it was always my dream to cross the Mediterranean and participate in the Venice biennial but never got the chance to. So, this year when I knew that Chicago, the avant-garde city of arts, will host their second architecture biennial for North America, I was very excited and had to be there. The choice to hold the event at the cultural center was great as you can enjoy the walk in the center as much as you enjoy the exhibitions.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    Stained glass dome in the Grand Army of the Republic rotunda at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Stained glass dome in the Grand Army of the Republic rotunda at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The theme was “make a new history” which provokes the question whether contemporary architecture could make history one day. The interpretation of the vertical and horizontal city of Chicago was the highlight of the biennial.

Two projects caught my Attention at the exhibition, the first one by Charles Waldheim with Harvard GSD office and Siena Scarff Design. The project is an exploration of urban Chicago by redesigning the morphology of the towers based on optimized solar performance. It is interesting to see how ecological studies could change the character of the future city.

Red Wall.jpg

The second project was collaboration of 15 architectural firms. The architects were exploring the vertical city by Reinterpreting the Tribune Tower. In this project they built a vertical structure in the same way the city was built by bringing the suburban characters and layering history vertically. Their main theme was to allow for individual expression and to show the city character.

Buildings on buildings.jpg

I believe that exhibitions and world fairs could bring the world to us just as travel. They are sources of inspiration and they also open a dialogue to Initiate transformation by bringing together and blending different cultures. These dialogues are essential for our survival and impacts our behavior towards this shared world. Even if boarders cut through it, it remains a shared one globe where every act counts.

Pantone Color of The Year 2018

Pantone, the color matching giant, announced their Color of the Year 2018:  Ultra Violet 18-3838.

A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.

1.jpg

Per the Pantone announcement:

“Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.”