It has been nearly a year since artists Bigert & Bergström installed their Solar Egg in Sweden’s northernmost town of Kiruna. The artists drew inspiration from Kiruna’s arctic climate and extreme light conditions (24-hour winter darkness and 24-hour summer sun). What initially appears to be nothing more than a modern take on the Scandi sauna tradition is actually a keyhole into a much bigger, and unbelievable, situation.
The golden Solar Egg symbolizes a rebirth of the city. One that involves picking up its entire contents — including its 23,000 people — and moving them elsewhere. Supplying 90% of all Europe’s iron, Kiruna is the world’s largest iron ore extraction site. And over the decades, the landscape and environment have been irreparably damaged. The environment is crumbling and now the people must relocate or face devastating consequences.
Bigert & Bergström are known for their exploration of man’s relationship to nature, climate, energy and technology. More than a portable sauna with an eye-catching exterior, the Solar Egg is meant to be an incubator for ideas and as a place for people to meet discuss what is happening around them.
The Solar Egg is a statement on Kiruna’s condition, but also a functioning sauna and an unforgettable piece of design. Made out of golden mirror sheeting, the metallic egg is meant to reflect the landscape that surrounds it, while the earthy interior is much cozier. Inside, the walls, floor and bench are made of wood, and in the center stands a wood-burning, human-heart-shaped stove. The temperature inside of the egg can top an astonishingly toasty 185°F (85°C).
Luckily, we won’t have to travel all the way to Sweden to experience it. The installation is made up of 69 separate pieces and can be disassembled and relocated to wherever the artists see fit. In fact. just this past November the Solar Egg spent three weeks in Paris taking part in the Swedish Design Moves Paris initiative. Who knows? Southern California could be next.