Valsøya Workshop - Smoke House


The foundation is simple but effective, eight small wells were dug and filled with small stones with a large stone placed atop. 

Meanwhile, almost steadily throughout the week, we will be debarking logs that arrive to then cut them into fifty centimetre logs and thus obtaining the "bricks" of wood that will be used on the walls, which together with clay will form the “masonry” structure. The wood that we use is waste product, which was deemed unsuitable for construction purposes.

Once the foundation and the structural framework are complete must find a way to level out our site, we cut several large logs at different heights from a fallen tree found on site, these would be cut to size and shaped to fit on top of the aforementioned stones and as such function as pillars on which the frame of the sauna would lay.

The oven was constructed from stones collected around the site as well as two large stones collected from a local quarry. It was important to distinguish the quality of stone to where it was placed in the construction of the oven as stone with large iron deposits would easily crack when submitted to direct heat and would therefore either be placed in areas where the heat would be minimal or discarded. The oven is built in a “igloo” type construction with large rocks at its base and finished with two large with small rocks on top, this construction is typical of this type of smoke sauna where you light the fire and let the smoke seep out from the cracks of the oven and heat the sauna over a long period of time (10-14 hours). After the sauna is heated the smoke will have left the structure and the rocks on the top of the oven will be warm enough for water to be applied and create the traditional steam sauna.

The sauna is built up on layers of wooden bricks clay and support strips. The clay is a mixture of sand, blue marine clay and water. A layer of clay approximately 2cm high would be placed and then a layer of wooden “bricks” would be placed on top with clay in between to seal the structure, another 2cm of clay would be added and finally we would nail down planks along the inside and outside edge of the structure just to add extra rigidity to the structure, this process would be repeated all the way to the top of the sauna.

The roof was built in 2 layers to provide extra insulation and will be finished with a layer of birch bark, clay and turf at a later point. The interior space was created with leftover planks from the roof construction, each floor board is hand planed and sanded for maximum comfort when walked on by naked feet. The internal furnishing comprises of two benches one small and one large both made the sam way by splitting a log and hand planing it down to a smooth surface, the legs are hand cut and fitted by simple wood joints.

The construction is honest, dirty, the materials do not hide anything, everything has its own function and purpose, it is as simple and basic as a construction can be, whilst at the same time extremely complex.