Hankø is an island in Norway. This remote island community was only recently connected to the public water and sewerage system. The island’s authorities, who take conservation seriously, approved the building of the bathhouse on the condition that it be no larger than 10 m2 (107 feet), and that it wouldn’t have an overt impact on its surroundings. Meticulous planning was crucial; we placed the bathhouse at the rear of an existing cabin from the 1900’s, between three pine trees.
The use of wood in the buildings structure and skin allows for a light weight and adaptable build that can be mounted on stilts and the structure is supported by six pillars which were strategically positioned to help prevent damage to the roots of the three trees.
The exterior is clad in Kebony wood, developed in Norway using an eco-friendly, patented process where softwood is permanently strengthened with bio-based liquid obtained from agricultural crop waste. The cladding was heated and pressurized so that the wood would bend and fit the natural curves of the landscape. Leaving it untreated will allow for a natural colour change that over time will ‘naturalise’ the look of the bathhouse and harmonises with the bark of the surrounding pine trees.
The interior of the bathhouse is fitted with waxed red oak and deep green-colored, built-in-furniture made out of MDF that mimics the shades of the surrounding pines. The hygroscopic properties of wood make it a material well suited for dealing with shifts in humidity and temperature. Its thermal qualities mean it is warm to human touch yet does not overheat and is resilient and durable to the stress of a hot and moist environment. Psychologically and physiologically it also elicits feelings of comfort and relaxation. In other words, wood is an ideal material choice for a bath facility.
The bat-house position in between the trees makes for an intimate connection with its natural surroundings. This is further emphasised as a glass ceiling is fitted across the entire top of the structure, allowing natural light to illuminate the interior while offering the bather stunning views of the forest above.