2018-19 YEAR 3



The Building as a Doula

In Finland, community midwife training has been abolished since 1972 and is currently not provided within the publicly-funded system. With a reverse shift in development towards more home births, the Doula Institute aims to promote education, research and engagement with traditional home sauna birthing – redefining the sauna as a sacred space.

At the antenatal clinic, the sauna birthing experience is simulated and researched for the eventuality of labour in their own domestic environment. The three protagonists, the midwife, man and woman evoke a symbiotic sauna birthing experience, with the building membranes sweating and breathing in sync with the occupant’s pain and practise. A pseudo-vernacular sauna allows the couples to rehearse the choreography of home birth. Through the ceiling-scape, sweat from the female sauna is manipulated into the male sauna, hence creating a butterfly effect of unbearable temperatures. Methods of water tracking helped developed a geological flooring, capturing the drops in specific spaces for the midwives to observe the volume and rhythms of sweat production. Through this research and observation, the 44 doula members of the Helsinki private midwife society gain confidence in physically assisting with home births, helping to bring back the spirituality of birth that has been lost within current healthcare facilities.

Tutors: Thomas Pearce, Greg Storrar