Created in an attempt to cultivate communal bathing in Australia, the Sense of Self Bathhouse aims to reinvent the wellness experience. Designed by a collaborative team that features designers from Setsquare Studio, Chamberlain Architects and Hearth Studio, the space is an inclusive and immersive space that has its experiences informed by the design.
Located in a converted warehouse in Collingwood, the bathhouse comprises a large mineral bath, Hammam Steam room, Finnish sauna, light-filled vegetated courtyard and cold plunge pool. Sense of Self is built around connection, both to oneself and the wider world, aiming to explore the relationship of the body to space. Doing away with the connections associated with the word ‘wellness’, the bathhouse aims to be an extension of the beauty of water, with its textural palette reflecting as such.
The brief passed on by the clients asked for an empathetic space that engaged in a new idea of well-being – community, acceptance and restoration. It also desired an immersive environment that encourages healing, rest and connection. Taking the notion of empathy, the design team endeavoured to create a space for every ‘body’. The space is not separated into spaces for specific genders or abilities, with communal change rooms and toilets and accessible communal bathing with a variety of entry options all on offer. The layout revolves around the sequence of rituals embedded in the bathing experience, ensuring a feeling of purity and empathy is felt throughout.
The material palette has been thoughtfully curated to feature textures that hold water-like qualities, given that the bathhouse revolves singularly around the element. The concept derives materials and form from understanding water as both a movement and a driver for growth, healing and nourishment. Drawing physical materials from concepts such as refraction, still, power, buoyancy and erosion.
Decorative glass and digital projections create fascinating contours when natural light touches them, while the water wall and flowing fabric curtains aim to demonstrate the power of water. Concrete, travertine and sandstone, a brisk, robust grouping of materials, have been cast and carved in a manner that encourages the textures to wear and chip as if they were within the natural environment. Plantations scattered throughout the space aim to underline water’s restorative qualities.
Carefully created around the mantra of wanting to establish a feeling of empathy, the team of designers from Setsquare Studio, Chamberlain Architects and Hearth Studio have brought an enlightening experience like no other to Collingwood. Equally elegant and vigorous, the design that complements the activity of bathing is an experience, looking to harness the qualities of water and translate it into a graceful space.