Modern Bathing & Spa Culture
Stemming from the ancient practice of using heat to release toxins, bathing and spa culture has been around nearly since the beginning of time. Though each civilization has their own unique rituals (the Turkish Hamman, the Russian Banya etc.,) the concept is the same; the practice of ritualistic bathing is not only beneficial for health, wellness and vitality but can also facilitate a sense of community, creating a space for gathering and socialization.
Of course, in the modern world things have changed — these rituals are not nearly as commonplace as they once were. That said, the tradition is experiencing a revival and we’ve found that it is being reimagined in some new and truly innovative ways. Below we explore some interesting examples of today's modern bathing culture.
AIRE Ancient Baths
Let us paint you a picture — Imagine a subterranean candlelit soak in the middle of New York City, in a 16,000sf former textile factory…are you with us? Through their expansive amenity program — which features an incredible saline floatation pool, The AIRE group (with several locations in Europe) pays homage to a variety of modalities of hydrotherapy to facilitate relaxation and care for your health. Clearly there is something to this place — AIRE is planning locations in Chicago, Paris and London in the coming years.
Onsen Bath & Restaurant
The idea of a daily cleanse not only for purification of the body, but for purification of the soul is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. At Onsen Urban Bath and Restaurant in San Francisco, the unique offering is onsen, tea, sake and seasonal cuisine with a Japanese influence, all within an award-winning designed space. This interesting fusion of offerings is an amazingly modern interpretation of one of Japan’s most cherished cultural rituals.
Egg Shaped Sauna
Public art or public bathing? It seems like a little bit of both. Swedish artists Biegert & Bergstorm have built a golden, egg-shaped sauna for the inhabitants of Swedish town Kiruna, as a response to their displacement due to damage caused by iron ore mining. The piece acts a commemorative social sculpture that is indented to make reference to climate and sustainable community development, while providing a safe and quiet interior space to connect and converse.
LÖYLY – AN URBAN OASIS
With a population of 5.5 million and a sauna count of approximately 3.3 million, to say that sauna culture is ingrained in Finnish culture would be an understatement! Löyly (which is the steam that comes from the hot water thrown on stones in a sauna) is an incredible public use sauna in the heart of Helsinki for both locals and tourists alike. The incredible wood and glass structure (designed by architecture firm Avan.to) is intimately connected to the sea and designed to blend into its surroundings. The programming has two parts — public sauna and restaurant, both places designed for socializing and community gathering.