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Solar Egg, the egg-shaped sauna nestled in the ice of Sweden

A project about climate and sustainable development

Solar Egg, the egg-shaped sauna nestled in the ice of Sweden A project about climate and sustainable development

Kiruna is a mining town in Swedish Lapland in recent years that has become the focus of great controversy over the extraction of iron from its subsoil. The highly invasive activity has transformed the face of the surrounding environment and, above all, has caused a progressive and inexorable weakening of the soil. The damage is so serious that, in order to avoid the risk of being swallowed up by the subsoil, all its buildings and about 18,000 inhabitants since 2014 have begun to move four kilometers eastwards from their original location. In order to give some beauty to land so severely damaged by man's impact on the environment, the Riksbyggen association commissioned artists Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström to design a project that would enhance the area without destroying it. The result is Solar Egg, a special egg-shaped structure that stands five meters high and four meters wide in the Nordic landscape. Its outer surface is covered with 69 sheets of gilded stainless steel reflecting mine, city, landscape, sky, sun and snow in a multitude of different fragmented images, symbolizing the "complexity of today's discussion about climate and sustainable community development".

On the inside, the egg hides a sauna, a place that in Scandinavian tradition represents a moment not only of wellness, but of relaxation and sociability. In the middle there is a heart-shaped iron and stone burner, heated by wood to ensure regular and constant steam great heat (which varies between 75 and 85 degrees Celsius), while around it, arranged in a semicircle, there are poplar wood seats that can be used to accommodate a maximum of 7 people. A small ladder can be dropped down to the snow to allow visitors to enter.

Since then the sauna has become a global success and taken on a worldwide tour. After Kiruna, the Egg went on to Björkliden, and had a splendid view of the midnight sun and the mountain landscape in summer. During autumn 2017 it was taken apart and transported to Paris and an exhibition at the Swedish Institute. After Paris, the Solar Egg spent a few months visiting the Swedish capital, at Artipelag, before heading back home to Swedish Lapland, to Gällivare for a summer. It then spent some time in Copenhagen before heading over to the US and Minneapolis.

The project is also described in the illustrated book Bigert & Bergström: Solar Egg.