The Wool Sauna building is the only sauna of its kind in Latvia and the latest addition to the Ziedlejas wellness resort. The stilted building sits on a hilltop at a distance from the resort's other saunas and overnight cabins but forms an intrinsic part of the experience. Guests access the Wool Sauna via a winding wooden walkway, which is more than a means to get from A to B. The snaking path encourages introspection and helps to mentally prepare for the ritual.
A black timber frame conceals a yurt-like structure, which is the actual sauna room and was bought as a ready-made facility. Open AD's task was to “dress” it and tie it in with the Ziedlejas story.
The walkway leads into the 67 m2 wooden structure. Here, bespoke furniture assists in getting ready, storing clothes and personal items without creating clutter. At every step of the way Open AD considered the wellbeing of saunagoers and the sauna masters who facilitate the experience.
Where possible, the architecture and design team introduced elements to enhance the ritual. For example, during breaks from the heat guests can lie on a giant outdoor hammock and gaze at the treetops. Since there is no natural body of water nearby, Open AD introduced a plunge pool within metres of the sauna room.
Inside the sauna room, the walls are clad in wool, which is a borrowed tradition not typical of Latvia. When hot, the wool releases lanolin, which is said to have healing properties. Because of this added dimension, the room is round, centred around a wood stove. Again, custom furniture answers to guests’ and sauna masters’ needs during the body and mind cleansing ritual.
The Wool Sauna’s material palette of wood, concrete, metal, and natural fabrics connects it to the other parts of Ziedlejas – its overnight cabins, the Glass Sauna and Smoke Sauna buildings. The resort is a work in progress but has the long-term goal of becoming a self-sufficient destination. It’s founded and designed with the idea to encourage rest, rejuvenation, and guests’ connection to themselves, loved ones and their surroundings.
Design team: Zane Tetere – Sulce, Beatrise Dzerve
Construction: Valdis Stepanovics, Kaspars Strazdins