Thermal Bath: an Urban Refuge

Program : Spa

Location : Seoul, Korea

Design Period : Feb. 2011 - May. 2011

Architect : Simplex Architecture


The project, Thermal Bath: an Urban Refuge, is to develop a thermal bath in an urban area, which will provide people with a relaxing and enjoyable place. Thermal Bath within the city will provide a resting place for those who are tired of daily routine both physically and mentally. Escaping from the city life, Thermal Bath will cure people’s mind and body. The building will work as a vertical nature that revitalizes people as an urban refuge.

 While thermal bath in a suburban area will have a horizontal configuration in order to interact with the nature and to provide people with an open view, a thermal bath in an urban situation will have a vertical configuration in order to accommodate the site condition and locate the bathing area detached from the street level. Thermal Bath: an Urban Refuge will provide people with an unprecedented relaxing area with natural elements inherent inside, which will act like a vertical park that is lacking in the area.

As soon as people walk into the building, they will start to experience the separation from the city. The exterior is cladded with a massive concrete structure that blocks the noise from the street level. Before moving up to the upper bathing zone, people pass by the staircase with a waterfall, which washes away people’s physical and mental fatigue.

The water temperature varies throughout the building while proceeding up to the top, so that people can choose where to go according to their preferences. There is a sky garden in the middle of the building with an outdoor pool integrated with vegetation. This area opens up the view towards the city, and people will be able to look down to the city while enjoying the bathing, escaping from the daily life.

A skylight penetrated at the roof of the highest floor, so that people can receive the afternoon sunlight during the day. The façade of the building is cladded with a group of metal strips that transforms the shape from opened position to closed position in order to open up the view towards the city in certain area while keeping it enclosed for the unnecessary areas.

Thermal Bath has been considered as an important facility from ancient times, and it was known as a good treatment for various diseases, curing both physical and mental health. It was not merely washing one’s body but making people feel lighter and think more positively. This project, Thermal Bath: an Urban Refuge will have these therapeutic properties of the thermal bath, and will be a unique value to the area, both physically and environmentally. It will be a prospective locus that fulfills the public’s desire to engage with the nature and to detach themselves from the monotonous daily life.