A sauna building located under train tracks, with a red train passing. There is snow on the ground.

Hotte Hü: A Community Sauna Cultivating Connections

Part of the Ufer Projects, a community garden called Hechtgruen in Dresden, wanted to build a community sauna to extend the gardens usage onto the colder winter months as well. The community saunas name, “Hotte Hü”, is a wordplay, which indirectly suggests the history of the repurposed horse trailer the sauna has been built on and the heat that can be felt inside. Constructed using eco-friendly materials such as spruce, hemp, and recycled sheet metal, the Hotte Hü embodies the community's dedication to sustainability.

Sauna being renovated. Harvia stove in the front.

Introduction to the Dresden community garden

Harvia became a part of the community spirit with a gifted Harvia 20 Pro wood burning heater, chosen by the Dresden community garden for its efficiency and quality, adding to the overall experience with its sleek design and large glass window.

The community garden is situated right between the first railroad tracks that were built in Germany and a populous working-class neighborhood that was created in the years of rapid industrial expansion in Germany in the end of the 19th century. The garden is built on community. They are welcoming everybody, using everything together and share their harvest yield. In the community garden they plant fruit, shrubs, and trees that feel comfortable in the climate and soil.

The frame of the sauna is being built.

The sauna building process

The decision to build their own sauna came from a small sauna they had hosted, built by students at the Technical University Dresden, who had become acquainted with sauna culture as exchange students in Finland. Their experiences and blueprints empowered the first steps towards the community gardens very own community sauna. The community members then were paired up into groups for planning and conceptual design, construction, funding, and purchasing. The project was financed by donations, discounts, charity events, and the undeviating commitment of their volunteers. The whole process took around 7 months from planning to a finished sauna in October of 2023.

Three people on sauna benches wrapped in red Harvia towels. The sauna stove, a pile of wood, and the sauna bucket near the benches.

Use of the community sauna

Beyond its physical construction, the Hotte Hü has become a focal point for community gatherings and events. From birthday celebrations to sports club evenings, the sauna has drawn a diverse crowd, enriching the sense of community within Hechtgruen. Open to all, the sauna operates under the guidance of appointed sauna masters who ensure its responsible use. Only with one sauna master present can the sauna be used. The sauna masters are also appointed for sauna maintenance and upkeep. First time users of the sauna are recommended to bring their own towel, warm clothes, a bath robe, and most importantly to enjoy the urban natural environment.

A campfire burning at the Dresden Community Sauna. A persons legs in the background alongside some wooden benches.

Sauna traditions and health benefits

Sauna traditions are still being formed by the community, but a campfire is usually being lit when heating up the sauna. The community members especially enjoy the health benefits of strengthening their immune system, particularly the fast hot-cold-immersions in the contrast baths. As people living in the city, they truly enjoy the stress relief, the silence, and the absence of any electronic devices.

The Hotte Hü stands as more than just a sauna; it is a symbol of community, collaboration, and the transformative power of shared spaces.

 Read more about the Hechtgruen community garden here: https://ufer-projekte.de/gemeinschaftsgaerten/hechtgruen/

Photos photographed by Vitus Pacholleck.

Harvia BimSchV2 wood burning heater inside sauna

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