burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience

the steam of life pavilion, built at burning man 2019, offers festival goers the experience of the traditional finnish sequenced sauna in the form of a deconstructed art installation. designed by JKMM architects together with sauna on fire collective, the timber pavilion embodies the typical physical elements of a finnish sauna. it comprises a minimal, human-scale wooden building which embraces natural ambient light and shade contextualized in the annual gathering within a hot desert environment. the design team took influence from the traditional ‘sauna,’ the only finnish word adopted by the english language and a common comparison used in finland to describe desert hot conditions.

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience
all images by hannu rytky



co-designed by JKMM architects and sauna on fire, the pavilion offers an atmospheric sequence influenced by the typical saunas found throughout finland. a passageway guides visitors into the circular sauna pavilion, shielded from the harsh desert light. visitors first enter a low-lit passageway that leads to the ‘löylyhuone’ steam room — the heart of a finnish sauna — with wooden benches and the ‘kiuas’ stove. after enjoying a sauna, visitors will enter a softly-lit space opening onto a centralized atrium yard. in the absence of an icy cold natural body of water, this atrium yard offers a shaded oasis for cooling down and meditative relaxing. like saunas in finland, the steam of life pavilion at burning man encapsulates the shared sense of humanity in a way that is memorable and timeless.

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience



‘in finland we are all very proud of our sauna culture,’ says samppa lappalainen, architect and CEO at JKMM. ‘it’s therefore a real honor for our design team to share a genuine, purifying, and meditative sauna-experience with the daring and curious audiences at burning man. so, I’m super excited to see the reactions and hear the feedback of guests to our sauna pavilion.’

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience

burning man 2019 offers festival-goers a finnish sauna experience



project info:


title: steam of life pavilion
architecture: JKMM architects, sauna on fire

exhibited at: burning man 2019

event dates: august 25th — september 2nd 2019

  • Curious to see how this turns out. I’d be cautious of mixing steam and playa dust on my body. The leave no trace principal would also suggest the condensation (and sweat) shouldn’t be allowed to touch the playa. Is this captured somehow? I hope the stove is also solar powered.

    Ed says:
  • Finland is still not part of Scandinavia. The same goes for Iceland, but I’m pretty confident those two countries too enjoy a hot sauna, not only the Scandinavian ones… The Nordic countries vs. The Scandinavian countries.

    Albin says:
  • Dear Ed, Finland isn’t a part of scandinavia – geographically speaking. But it is part of scandinavia politically as the scandinavian countries form a coalition.

    Johan says:

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