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The Bathhouse Project

Part 1 Project 2008
Marcel Croxson
University of Brighton | UK
The history of the Aylesbury Estate is marked by a series of social, economic and architectural problems, and is affiliated with the stigma attached to high-rise, council owned housing. The proposal of a bathhouse aims to improve this existing urban and social scenario on two scales.

In the urban context of the Aylesbury Estate the proposal of a Bathhouse is intended as an architectural statement about the future of the area, as an environmentally considerate, community focused urban regeneration. Throughout history Bathhouses have played a vital role in the functioning of society, and can be seen as a key program in the areas development.

The Bathhouse project aims to re-connect the Aylesbury Estate to its surroundings, placing the Bathhouse in the centre of a re-unifying urban network, linking existing civic and religious programs to the Aylesbury Estate community. This move aims to associate the ritual of bathing with existing everyday routines embodied within the existing programs.

The Bathhouse itself forms the focus of this urban plan, aiming to create a community-enriching environment, as a place of unity and communication between the different elements of the estates population, brought together in the act of bathing. A pedestrian route runs through the bathhouse, forming part of the new urban fabric, directly connecting the bathhouse to the Aylesbury Estate, and Aylesbury estate to Burgess Park.

The project is formed as a series of flexible spaces that directly respond to the changing nature of the seasons and different to different weather conditions. This flexibility allows the Bathhouse to accommodate the changing requirements of the Aylesbury’s Estate’s diverse population, whilst intending to create delight when reacting with the weather, water and each other as a community.

Marcel Croxson

This project reinvents the public Bathhouse in a conceptually complex, yet simple way: in response to the cultural and built topography of a site between the Aylesbury Estate and Burgess Park in South East London, the community building achieved offers an immense spatial adaptability allowing for all sorts and sizes of local user groups.

Weather is one of the conceptual and "practical" drivers of this design: its potential spatial qualities are explored in misty, sunny and rainscreen spaces enhancing the experience of the bathers in different seasons and times of day. At the same time, the weather's inherent energy is extracted to power the building through an integrated active solar system and rainwater harvesting. The building's main features all reflect this ambition for energy self-sufficiency and a spatial quality reflecting the local climate.

The spatial interplay of water - weather [sun, wind, rain] - bather is achieved and controlled through elegant and well resolved screens and building levels. These are connecting several internal gardens to the inside of the building and link to both the park and urban outside.

Considering the lacking spatial and thematic connections between Burgess Park and Aylesbury Estate, this Bathhouse is a provocative and visionary contribution to the discussion of how to regenerate public space around existing housing estates.

Katrin Bohn
Colin Priest

Katrin Bohn
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