THE REINTERPRETATION OF BATHS IN THE CONTEMPORARY CITY
Students: Zoe Despoina Papaoikonomou
Location: Thessaloniki, Greece Date: June 2020 Course: Diploma thesis Award: Honorable Mention for the international competition Gaudi Architecture Prize
The aim of this diploma project is the reinterpretation of the bath in the contemporary city of Thessaloniki. Since ancient times, public baths have played an important role in the social and cultural life of the city as spaces of hygiene, sacred ritual, pleasure, and physical relaxation.
This design project re-examines the importance and role of the baths as places of social and cultural interaction that introduce a new rhythm in the everyday life of the city of Thessaloniki, re-claiming its multicultural identity. This new rhythm acts as diversion from the everydayness and the routine that slows down the hectic pace imposed by city life. In addition, it punctuates a pause in everyday life, that allows for reconnection with one’s self and body, stress release and wellbeing while creating an antidote to consumerism and an alternative to the privately owned commercial and recreational spaces.
The program of the proposal has as its main element the bath with a central outdoor pool and individual private indoor spaces where the ritual of the bath takes place. In addition, communal spaces such as a square, gardens, a refreshment room, an outdoor area for screenings, cultural activities and swimming pools in the sea are recommended. Sea water is used for water treatment as an ecological dimension of the project. At the same time, the water is biologically purified using plants.
Between public and private: The proposal concerns the reinterpretation of bath as a public space, but due to the special nature of the program, more private and introverted spaces are needed. Therefore, there is a need to manage the transition between the public and the private spaces. The proposal refers to the typology of the Roman bath in terms of the centrality of the outdoor pool and the process of the ritual that takes place around it. In addition, it interprets the ritual of the Ottoman hammam and the transitions of spaces with different temperatures. Utilizing the urban landscape, it combines the liquid element with the views of the city, forming the basis of the narrative walk.