Illiana Somoroff

Chicken Coop Sauna

Structure Experiments

After Waew made her first prototype of a Sauna Cabin in Thailand, she used plastic and blue metal tubes. In December 2020, she came to the Netherlands to further continue her experiments. Although in Thailand many people use bamboo branches to make structures, like “chicken coop” esqu cabins, she chose to work with willow branches. After coming to the Netherlands and talking to some native Dutch people, she found out that the willow tree is one that “typically represents the Netherlands."


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Nakedness vs Privacy

In her first ideas of bringing the Thai sauna experience to the Netherlands, she wanted to emphasize the increased privacy that it allows. She wanted to play with the idea of nakedness versus privacy, which is why she wanted the individual's head “sticking out.” Then, the contrast between when the person is exposed inside the transparent material before, with how they are covered after the heat fills the cabin. The traditional cabins in Thailand are assembled with a cloth hanging from the ceiling, so the full body is covered. Waew wanted to diverge from this idea slightly and make it something people can find humor in. 

Shaping the Coop

After collecting the branches, the challenge began of assembling the chicken coop shape. She tells me that it was quite difficult to bend the branches in the correct way and then, once that is done, bind them together so that it is stable. Waew made a few different versions of this but also felt that her main idea of the project was fading away if she used this willow tree idea. However, since she wanted to stick with the idea of the “head sticking out,” she felt that the willow branches were not the best solution.

Covering up

While making the Chicken coop, the thought came to cover the willow branches with a material. But with what? Plastic seemed like a non-sustainable choice. Maybe some sort of paper? As one of her core goals for this project is to work in a sustainable way, bioplastic seemed suitable. But, how big can a sheet of bioplastic be? Does it stretch? Can it take the heat that the Sauna needs? 

It is clear that the process of experimenting with different materials is as much part of the work, as the finished product. After understanding the chicken coop was not suitable, and the choice for a cover material was still open, the next phase began.

Follow the next blog post with Chef Waew: Steaming Wellness