Soak, Steam, Dream: Reinventing Bathing Culture
16 September 2016 – 28 January 2017
Soak, Steam, Dream explores a new communal bathing culture through the work of contemporary architects and designers. The immersive exhibition, opening as part of the 2016 London Design Festival, features international bathhouse projects and more from Avanto Architects, Shigeru Ban, Terunobu Fujimori, H3T architekti, Leonard Koren, Kengo Kuma and associates, Raumlabor, Skene Catling de la Peña, Germán del Sol, Something & Son and Peter Zumthor.
Curator Jane Withers says,
‘There has been an extraordinarily rich architecture and culture associated with communal bathing since ancient times. With the arrival of the private bathroom and a more clinical approach to sanitation and wellbeing, we have lost this leisurely sense of the bathhouse as a place not just for wellbeing and relaxation but also a place for social exchange and community life. Gone too is the sensorial dimension of an architecture of stillness and reflection, designed to be seen floating, or through a veil of steam. Soak, Steam, Dream aims to reveal a new emerging bathing culture.’
Through photography, film and archive objects, the exhibition reflects how this rich panorama is being re-created in a new bathhouse culture that is helping us, in an increasingly water stressed era, to revalue and reconnect to water and use it more responsively and responsibly. Unlike today’s western spas, invariably a place of privilege and luxury, the bathhouse has more inclusive roots, and models are emerging in response to changing urban conditions and reduced living spaces, shifting boundaries between public and private, the personal and the communal.
Soak, Steam, Dream is designed by London-based studio Kellenberger-White, using a materials-focused approach to transform the fluid spaces of the Zaha Hadid-designed gallery into an animistic bathing grotto, drawing on natural and ad hoc materials including clay, wood and charcoal.
Open: Mon – Fri, 9.00 – 17.30 & Sat 11.00 – 17.00
Until 20.00 last Tuesday of the month.