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Is it a lie? A clever ruse? Who cares! Slap some water on those hot stones and let the sauna-ing begin.

The Grotto Sauna is the best kind of manipulation. From the outside, you think you’re getting an angular, modern cabin. You’re prepared for a well-executed, albeit staid space, with spartan furnishings and an elevated discourse on how the design was inspired by 19th century naturalist philosopher. Then…bam.

The camouflaged door opens to a curvaceous, sculpted interior that would have made Bernini gape in envy of the motion and energy it captures. The room comes even more alive when it’s discovered to be a sauna. Named the “Grotto,” the design reflects the small cave behind a waterfall: cozy, perfectly ergonomic, and sporting outrageous water-level views, naturally.

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Designed by Partisans, the Grotto was built off-site. The architects partnered with a mill and steel fabricator to utilize the latest 3D technology in order to scan, model, and build the structure.

One last surprise from this geometry-rich cabin? Don’t let the sauna mislead you. The Grotto isn’t in Sweden. It’s Canadian proud.

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Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

Photos by Jonathan Friedman.

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