Sauna, Watershed Estate, Lew Beach, New York
The sauna sits at the perimeter of the inhabited area of the Watershed property. On one side of the perimeter is the inhabited garden, with pools, playgrounds, meadows, rock ledges, houses; on the other side is the forest. The sauna is seen as the mediator between the manmade and the natural – the objective is to attempt distilling these into essences and to weave them together into a singular experience. With respect to the existing property’s structures, the sauna is a space of luxury. But it is also a didactic space, to demonstrate the elements in an extreme form and instill a vocabulary for an encounter with nature.
The placement and orientation of the sauna relates to an implied rotation of the existing housing grid from the idealized North-South axis. This rotation is seen to open up the volume of the structure, as the adjacent wetland is interpreted as an opening created by a tectonic shift of the land. This rotation introduces water into the volume, which in turn accepts reflection and light into the space of the building.
The experience of the sauna is a sequence between the extremes of hot and cold. These correspond to the use of fire and water within the building, and also correspond to the experience of day and night. While one half of the sauna is calibrated toward the path of the sun during the day – the experience of the ecliptic plane – the other half is oriented toward the night sky and the view of the milky way.