Bigert & Bergström's golden egg symbolises a change of seasons

Solar Egg by Bigert & Bergström. Photos Jean-Baptiste Béranger

KIRUNA – An egg-shaped sauna is making an impression on the local people of Sweden’s northern-most town. With room for up to eight people, the metallic installation has been constructed courtesy of artistic duo Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström. The pair was inspired by Kiruna’s unique climate, where the seasons oscillate ‘from 24-hour winter darkness to round-the-clock midsummer sun’. Urban developer Riksbyggen commissioned the project to symbolise the beginning of a radical transformation that will see the entire town move 3 km east – an unusual but necessary consequence of ground subsidence caused by the area’s historic iron-core mining industry. Constructed from 69 individual pieces, the fully-functioning Solar Egg is an icon of regeneration, innovation and celebration for the inhabitants of Kiruna.

What interested you in the project?
MATS BIGERT: When Riksbyggen asked us to build a sauna for Kiruna, we felt it was natural to explore a space that unites and encourages conversation in this particular corner of the country. They have a very strong sauna tradition here. Saunas are intriguing places that trigger your imagination. They are also sacrosanct places where you can discuss all manner of things – from the big to the small – and, since this town is in for a major change, people need to talk.

How did you approach Solar Egg?
We are artists and we make art. Obviously, though, this piece is also very useful since it is a fully functioning sauna too and we appreciate this ambiguity.

What was the construction process like?
The design and construction work took us some three months to complete. The egg was first assembled in a studio to check the function and structural stability. It stands firmly on the ground through a steel pole which is anchored to a horizontal metal grid, creating the illusion of a standing egg.

How does Solar Egg explore your interests in humanity’s relationship with the world?
We explore how the physical world related to people in a very literal way. The temperatures are changing now and this is especially noticeable in the Arctic region, where we have already conducted some major research with our project on Kebnekaise. The sauna is a symbolic chamber for reflections on humanity and the way we will have to deal with rising temperatures and climate change in our world.

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