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Hackney Baths

Part 2 Project 2012
Scott Raper
University of Lincoln Lincoln UK

In Kensington and Chelsea there arose a pattern of underground developments being constructed under tranquil Georgian facades. As one development is permitted several more follow on each street, a regular game of one-upmanship takes place between residents. Through Edward Benson a prolific novelist of the early nineteenth century I set up a series of events taken from one of his greatest novels that documents and satirizes the upper-class social relationships of London’s elite.

The next aspect of the project looks at Kensington and Chelsea as a landscape prone to surface water flooding. I have proposed a set of hydrology devices inspired by Benson’s narrative that look to ease the ebb and flow of the London waterscape, the devices look to minimize intrusive alterations to the natural and unnatural landscapes around them whilst dealing with the problems of water distribution.

Through a reading of Michel Foucault’s “Of other spaces” I looked to uncover a set of considerations that would instil a building in its society. The building’s will house a variety of bathing accommodation influenced by the wide culturally and ethnically diverse society in Hackney, inspired by Foucault’s thinking regarding the Traditional Persian garden.

“a sacred space that was supposed to bring together inside its rectangle four parts representing the four parts of the world, with a space still more sacred than the others that were like an umbilicus, the navel of the world at its center” (Foucault, 1967)

The buildings would react and reconfigure to the changing environment around it, holding excess floodwater above the water table easing the flow of water and extracting what is needed for purification and use. The facade itself would unravel and close revealing glimpses of the interior whilst retaining the modesty of its occupants.

Statures will be relatively diminished once entered in the bathing quarters, as clothes and belongings are shed. The partitions of the steam, sweat and sauna rooms will be somewhat susceptible to their environment shedding material as the building ages breaking visual boundaries between users of the rooms. Therefore unifying occupants whilst still retaining the modesty and comfort they require.

Scott Raper


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