Hand-built from rugged pine, the Big Branzino floating sauna lets guests jump on board to not only experience the luxury of Nordic wellness but to also enjoy drifting around the Stockholm archipelago.
Designed by Thomas Sandell and Johan Strandlund from the Swedish architecture practice Sandellsandberg, the distinctive bow-shaped vessel can travel up to the speed of five knots. It’s timber structure, built using bespoke millwork and carpentry, is set atop a steel catamaran hull and contains a glazed sauna room.
Its characteristic bow shape has become a central theme used throughout the design, as the architects explain: “The lowest point of the arch creates warmth and closeness to the glow of the fire, and as the arch rises to the sides it allows the stars of the night sky to be admired from the inside.”
Conscious materials choices were made to ensure the exterior of the floating sauna didn’t detract from its abundant forested surroundings. For example, its exterior is clad in rustic pine planks to blend in and it opens onto two deck areas via fully glazed ends at the bow and stern.
The interiors, despite fitting into a compact floor plan, make the most of open-plan spaces and large openings that place the focus on the stunning vistas. Western red cedar is predominantly used for the interiors and the furniture, due to its ideal characteristics for sauna and outdoor use.
At the vessel’s heart is the sauna oven, which was one of the most challenging parts of the build. It was custom-designed to feature glass in all directions and for this the architects called in the expertise of blacksmith, Jan Karlsson. “This allows the glow of the fire to light up the space in all directions, and for the fire to be seen from the outside,” add the architects.
A shower and a bathroom are positioned at either end of the central sauna space, which includes a two-tired section placed around a stove. All the steering and navigation equipment is cleverly concealed within a revolving brass case.
There’s a ladder at one end that leads guests up to the rooftop seating area, and depending on the mood or time of day this spot can be used for quiet reflection whilst enjoying uninterrupted views of the archipelago, or it can be an animated entertaining space.
“The cedar table on the roof terrace is foldable and features brass handles, so it can be stowed away when the occasion calls for dancing,” explains Sandellssandberg architect Johan Strandlund.
What’s the highlight? “When night comes, the lights are sequenced with brass icons showing the overall shape and what part is lit up from each button,” explain the architects on how the Big Branzino impresses.
“The roof terrace is subtly lit by a concealed led light along the wall top, allowing uninterrupted views of the night sky and the great views of the surrounding archipelago.” It sounds like bliss!
Project name: Big Branzino
Type: Floating sauna
Contractor: Christer Ulfvengren, AlfaBryggan AB
Carpentry: Master carpenter Leif Persson, Kungsörs Båtvarv
Smith work: Jan Karlsson (steel, brass), Lennart Andersson (brass)
Structural engineer: Daly Ogmaia, Kvarteretk
Photography: Filip Gränström
Discover more about idea-driven architecture practice Sandellsandberg, designers of the Big Branzino floating sauna.