Three years ago, when we gave the Na Slunci association a grant to transform the Jelínek forest area in the town of Kunštát, few people could imagine what the site might become. The main aim of the grant was to involve local residents in planning, designing and implementing the revitalization of the forest area. At a citizen planning meeting to discuss possible uses for the site, two community members shared their vision of enjoying a sauna amidst the trees and listening to the sounds of the forest. The vision gathered momentum in the community, and today the sauna stands as the first implemented piece of the Jelínek forest revitalization project.
FROM VISION TO REALITY
For several years, the Jelínek forest has been home to a preschool and a forest club, both housed in the vicinity of a dilapidated 1940s-era lodge. It is also a popular walking destination for local residents. The Na Slunci association saw greater potential in the forest site and sought to engage neighbors and other residents in planning new uses for the area.
The members of the Na Slunci association held two community planning meetings to find out how people in Kunštát would like to see the area transformed. Based on the input gathered at these meetings, architects and landscape architects developed a site design and landscape design that introduce a sensitive transformation of the old lodge into a community center and stewardship of existing vegetation. The town council accepted the designs as conceptual underpinnings for further development of the Jelínek forest area. However, given the large size of the site, the complexity of the planned improvements and the town council’s hesitation to embark on a major project at the time of municipal elections, it was agreed that the implementation would be conducted in phases. In response, the members of the Na Slunci association, after consultation with the councillors, decided to move the project forward by building one key element of the design that came out of citizen input: a wooden sauna.
The project team and other volunteers from the association organized several work parties in the forest, where residents completed the groundwork and built the foundation for the sauna. They constructed a wooden platform with a seating area.
Next, a crane then hoisted the round sauna onto the platform.
At a special design workshop, children helped design the decorative elements of the sauna and adjacent seating area. In parallel, the project team held an online fundraising drive on Via’s portal Darujme.cz that raised an additional $3,500. Via boosted the funds raised with a matching grant of $2,200.
The grand opening of the sauna took place on November 30, 2022. “One of the goals of our association is to connect people of different ages. And our sauna is a great way to do that,” commented Bára Danielová, a member of the association.
The sauna is now in place in the forest and equipped with sauna equipment. The sauna is being operated on a trial basis during the 2022-23 winter. Feedback from the first visitors will serve as a basis for subsequent operation. But it looks great already!
You can find more photos from the grand opening of the sauna on the Facebook group Proměna Jelínkova areálu. The author of the photos is Robert Vystrčil.
The transformation of the Jelínkovo complex would not have been possible without our generous donors, The Hamer Foundation and Hornbach. Thank you!