Water Well explores the possibility of reviving the urban bathhouse in a mid-size, Midwestern city. The program follows a journey underground to visit an ancient wellspring. Reborn from the heat and water, patrons ascend to floors above to cool and hydrate their bodies among the sun and sky.
Located in an urban center between office buildings, residential townhouses and an entertainment district, the bathhouse engages the pedestrian zone with a nouveau-pharmacy experience.
The fresh pink stucco and green tile within the pharmacy give it a clean appearance that hints at the domestic bathroom. Product is displayed simply on shelves and the skincare retail area is dominated by a large custom trough sink. The water bar opposite features a walk-in refrigeration unit for the storage and display of mineral waters. Beyond the pharmacy, a reception desk opposes a series of small lockers for valuables.
After changing, guests descend to the lower level and begin their bathing journey in the welcome shower. Black and gold tones give a feeling of ancient power to the baths. The limestone pool glows with underwater lighting, and contrasts with the marble and granite finishes surrounding it.
White brick and floating glass stairs create a column of light, airiness in the atrium. The opening is penetrated by a fine stream of water falling four floors to the lower level.
Nestled into the rear of the first floor atrium is the hydration room. The finishes here – large-weave fabrics, screens and an unsealed travertine bar – reflect the thirstiness of guests after their intense sweating in the baths.
When guests are ready to fully cool their bodies, the sunny resting level awaits. Key elements on this level are glass and layers of gauzy curtains, which allow for the penetration of natural light with a layer of filtered softness. A roof garden and oversize terrarium engender an indoor/outdoor feeling that carries through with patio-style furniture.