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In Gmunden, a sauna plunged into Lake Traunsee

In Gmunden, a sauna plunged into Lake Traunsee
The floating sauna officially opened on Thursday.
Image: Egger

If someone had sat in the orange wooden hut, they would probably have looked for a cure for seasickness. Gmunden’s new sauna swayed like an oversized buoy in the rising north wind on Thursday afternoon. The rudders of the raft she was standing on had been torn off the night before and temporarily reattached.

Simone Barlian started sweating the evening before. Because the sauna worked – perfectly. The Gmunden project manager of “Plateau Blo”, an initiative of the Linz University of Art for the Capital of Culture, tried it out together with her colleague Sabine Pollak when the high Traunsee was not yet rough.

It was officially opened opposite Kuferzeile on Thursday. Three more platforms are to follow from April: a stage for exhibitions and performances, a research station for “artists in residence” and a platform that is open and largely empty. They will all swim connected to each other on Lake Traunsee – anchored 20 meters from the shore. Until they move on after a few weeks. To the west bank to Altmünster, or to the south to Ebensee.

“Private was the first word”

The project should be understood as a statement against exclusive possessive thinking. “The first word my children learned here at Traunsee was private. We want to use the initiative to create space on the lake,” says Barlian. Because the shore areas of the Salzkammergut lakes are largely in private hands and public access is rare.

The sauna will be public from February, but only accessible to those who have previously registered for it. Ten places are available and can be booked via a website and a sauna telephone. It is best to have dialogue sessions there. They were built exclusively by women; the first sketch was made more than a year ago. “And the platform looks exactly like it did in the first draft,” says Barlian. In the end, more than 20 students worked on carpentry in the abandoned old gasworks.

“Young people are needed to practice in this region,” said Elisabeth Schweeger, artistic director of the Capital of Culture 2024. Because the future lies in rural areas. “If this is lost, we will have nothing left to breathe and nothing to eat.”

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