Rausti Sauria Porriairieri

Brunow & Maunula

Subject | For decades Finland was a nation hemmed in by the Eastern and Western Blocks, until this power balance subsided. As a mediator and official/unofficial point of contact between both sides it enjoyed great attention. This fostered a flourishing economy which also led to notable investment in the construction sector; many buildings for government, administrative and sports purposes bear witness to this. They were all built in an age dominated by steel and concrete; the indigenous material timber remained totally neglected - like in most other countries. As the "Cold War" ended, so did Finland's economic prosperity. The financial consequences of the great building boom are proving to be enormous, the economy is stagnating. With the general rebirth of interest in timber as a building material, Finland too - which in Alvar Aalto has an architect of international renown - is beginning to re-establish traditional forms of timber construction. Unfortunately, funds and hence opportunities for major experiments are considerably limited. Therefore, it is the young architects who are trying to find a new vocabulary of home-grown architecture by way of smaller projects.

Finland is well known for its many lakes, its vast forests - and its saunas! More than one-third of Finnish households possess a summer-house somewhere in a forest by a lake and with a sauna. A special culture of relaxation and seclusion has evolved over a long period of time, a culture which matches the natural circumstances and exploits them to the full. The Finnish sauna is a product of this environment. Typical features are the wood-burning stove, which ensures the dry heat amid the cold arctic climate, the wooden surfaces in the sauna - for wood is the only material one can touch at such temperatures (approx. 90°) - and a lake nearby for intensive cooling. The necessary changing room, indoor and outdoor areas for sitting or relaxing as well as cooking and sleeping facilities round off the Finnish sauna. In this way, a few days or weeks can be spent relaxing and "recharging the batteries".


Villa Rausti, Niinijàrvi, 07170 Pornainen, Finland


Mr. and Mrs. Uki Rausti Architect

Brunow & Maunula Architects, Helsinki Design Team

Juhani Maunula, Vesa Pekka Erikkilâ, Anna Brunow

Structural Engineer Pentinmikko & Tikkala Oy, Helsinki

Timber Construction H. Myllynen, Sipoo

Date of Completion 1991


The total cost of the building was 245 000 Markka.

Design | The house belonging to the client's family is situated on the steep east bank of the Niinijarvi Lake about 50 km from Helsinki. The sauna was to be built halfway up this bank. The architect conceived the sauna as a resting point on the

5 | Structural drawing of roof beam layout, scale 1:100.

6 | Structural drawing of floor beam layout, scale 1:100.

stairs between the house and the water. A small patio with a view of the lake forms a link between the sitting room on one side and the changing and shower room on the other side which leads to the actual sauna room. So the whole Finnish sauna ritual is catered for. The stove in the sauna room is fired with wood in the traditional way and the upper bench is wide enough to permit bathers to lie down comfortably. The shower room has no running water; water for pouring over the bathers is provided in wooden buckets. The patio with screened bench for cooling down and with the stairs enabling bathers to descend to the lake, has a transparent sunshade at the front supported by wooden struts. The sitting room with fireplace, seating, small cupboard and large panorama window, is designed as a place for relaxation. There is also a sleeping gallery at the rear with a clear height of just 1.20 m, reached via a ship's ladder. This can also be used as a separate room for guests.

The stairs were re-routed during construction. In order to ease the climb, a return was incorporated and the pathway laid around the outside of the sauna. That somewhat diluted the original idea of the simple resting point halfway down to the lake but, on the other hand, gave the internal functions more coherence and avoided their being split in two by the pathway.

Structure | Owing to the steep slope of the ground, the building was conceived as a wooden box placed directly on separate pad footings at the rear (i.e. against the slope) while the front was propped up on 125 x 125 mm timber stilts, again on separate pad footings. At the rear a continuous strip footing would have been disadvantageous because water draining down the slope would have become trapped behind it; hence pad footings were used here as well. Resting on these footings and parallel to the slope are the 150 x 150 mm main beams which carry the floor joists at 600 mm centres, notched onto the main beams. These joists are 200 x 75 mm in the sitting room and 200 x 50 mm in the sauna itself, due to the different spans. The external walls are in timber-frame construction consisting of vertical 125 x 50 mm studs at 600 mm centres standing on a similarly sized sole plate. At the top they are connected to 260 x 39 mm glulam beams, positioned on the inside face, which carry the 200 x 75 mm or 200 x 50 mm rafters at 600 mm centres; the pitch of the roof is about 15°. The glulam beams are made very narrow in order to allow the thermal insulation to continue past virtually unimpeded.

The roof contains 100 +100 = 200 mm insulation laid between the rafters, covered by a continuous airtight layer of 13 mm chipboard. On top of this, secondary rafters, 100 x 50 mm, guarantee a 100-mm-deep ventilation gap below the tongue-and-groove boarding, and support the overhanging eaves. Bituminous felt provides the waterproofing for the roof. Fixed below the main rafters are 50 x 50 mm battens at 400 mm centres with a further 50 mm of insulation between them, the vapour barrier underneath this and finally the ceiling, made from 70 x 15 mm fir planks left exposed. In the sauna room itself, 22 mm counterbattens fixed between the vapour barrier and the ceiling construction create an additional ventilation gap.

The external walls contain 125-mm-thick thermal insulation in the bays, covered internally by a vapour barrier and the 70 x 15 mm fir planks which form the wall finish. In the walls to the sauna room, an additional ventilation gap is provided similar to that in the roof. On the outside there is a continuous layer of 30 mm chipboard with 22 mm vertical counterbattens to provide an external ventilation gap, followed by the horizontal 100 x 22 mm sections which carry the wall finish comprising 25 mm impregnated fir planks in random widths. For aesthetic reasons, some sections of the external walls are clad horizontally instead. At the

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