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Sauna Culture: A Rooftop Oasis (and Wildflower Meadow) in Minnesota

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Sauna Culture: A Rooftop Oasis (and Wildflower Meadow) in Minnesota

October 28, 2022

With winter coming, I’m preparing to embrace the cold with hot springs, steams, and cold plunges—learning from the cultures that do it best.

Like, for example, the Minnesotans.

When Steffanie Musich and her husband Matt enlisted Minneapolis-based Jody McGuire of Sala Architects to create a new garage structure beside their home—including space for a micro-brewery, workshop, and bike storage—it was only fitting that they add a sauna for weathering the long winters. Cleverly, it’s positioned on the green roof of the new structure, surrounded by native meadow for maximum quiet.

Take a look (and take notes):

Photography by Gaffer Photography.

The landscaped rooftop sits atop the newly constructed garage. The whole design, Steffanie wrote in a guest blog post, &#8\2\20;allows us to continue the pursuit of our shared hobbies, from environmental stewardship (stormwater runoff from our lot ultimately ends up in Lake Nokomis, and as the founders of the Friends of Lake Nokomis, we’d like to set a good example) to brewing (there’s a small-scale micro brewery in the &#8\2\16;garage&#8\2\17; space below) to beekeeping (see the hive in the lower left-hand corner?).&#8\2\2\1;
Above: The landscaped rooftop sits atop the newly constructed garage. The whole design, Steffanie wrote in a guest blog post, “allows us to continue the pursuit of our shared hobbies, from environmental stewardship (stormwater runoff from our lot ultimately ends up in Lake Nokomis, and as the founders of the Friends of Lake Nokomis, we’d like to set a good example) to brewing (there’s a small-scale micro brewery in the ‘garage’ space below) to beekeeping (see the hive in the lower left-hand corner?).”
A cedar walkway leads from the roof&#8\2\17;s access point to the sauna, with native wildflowers on either side. The materials for the green roof were sourced by Omni Ecosystems, which Steffanie chose for its soil-science approach to creating a lightweight, low-maintenance green roof.
Above: A cedar walkway leads from the roof’s access point to the sauna, with native wildflowers on either side. The materials for the green roof were sourced by Omni Ecosystems, which Steffanie chose for its soil-science approach to creating a lightweight, low-maintenance green roof.
The sauna sits at the far end of the rooftop meadow. It&#8\2\17;s done in cedar, which got the shou sugi ban treatment from the homeowners and their friends.
Above: The sauna sits at the far end of the rooftop meadow. It’s done in cedar, which got the shou sugi ban treatment from the homeowners and their friends.
Inside the sauna structure.
Above: Inside the sauna structure.
&#8\2\20;From the sauna bench, the view back to the rooftop feels like you have been transported out of the city and into a magical forest,&#8\2\2\1; according to the architects.
Above: “From the sauna bench, the view back to the rooftop feels like you have been transported out of the city and into a magical forest,” according to the architects.
The team sourced native plants from Landscape Alternatives, including, Steffanie wrote: &#8\2\20;palm sedge, switchgrass, Indian grass, blue joint grass, columbine, shorts aster, prairie wild onion, common milkweed, whorled milkweed, cream wild indigo, mountain mint, black-eyed Susan, prairie tickseeds, and butterfly weed (\1″ plugs).&#8\2\2\1;
Above: The team sourced native plants from Landscape Alternatives, including, Steffanie wrote: “palm sedge, switchgrass, Indian grass, blue joint grass, columbine, shorts aster, prairie wild onion, common milkweed, whorled milkweed, cream wild indigo, mountain mint, black-eyed Susan, prairie tickseeds, and butterfly weed (1″ plugs).”

“The whole space was then overseeded with prairie oval sedge, plains oval sedge, June grass, prairie dropseed, Heath aster, cream false indigo, hairy penstemon, white yarrow, alfalfa, prairie clover, sand bracted sedge, Canadian wild rye, side oats grama, sky blue aster, bush clover, rough blazing star, mountain mint, goldenrod, and Ohio spiderwort,” she added.

The sauna in winter.
Above: The sauna in winter.

For more on the project, head to Sala Architects.

And for more saunas we love, see:

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