Agency in the Sauna: The Architectural Monument in the Era of the Anthropocene

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This article takes the public sauna at Frihamnen, a post-industrial harbor site in Gothenburg, Sweden, as an object of study in order to discuss the architectural
monument in the era of the Anthropocene. Designed as a temporary prototype in 2014 by the Berlin based architecture office raumlabor, the building was
recently granted monument status by the Gothenburg City Council. This article argues that, in order to respond to the environmental anxiety in current
discourse, a new analogy for monument is needed. Building on scholarship from Alois Riegl and Anthony Vidler, the article proposes a theoretical position on the
analogy for monument via a critique on the absence of contingency in abstract planning processes. The standpoint supports an analysis of the architecture of
the public sauna, which identifies several aspects of agency. The article demonstrates that the public sauna visualizes prospects for spatial design in the context of ecological degradation. Deducing intersections between agency and representation, it proclaims an incentive for shifting the analogy for the architectural monument from body to agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-203
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Architecture
  • Art History
  • Design


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