Week 1: BATHING- A Bath House for the Dadley Building

This paper runs throughout the whole of semester 2 and builds on my experiences from last semester, continuing the theme of intimate space. Intimacy derives from proximity and meaningfulness. This projects asks for us to propose a bath house for the basement level/space in the Dadley building (9 Mount Street) at AUT. In addition, we have to think about the environment this bath house proposal lies. We are required to design a “pocket forest” as the site to explore the wider context of our proposal and see it as more of an intervention within the city. We want life and vibrancy in the site.


  • Mount Street on the left of section
  • Basement level
  • Low ceilings
  • Tricky to deal with
  • On a ridge, not a valley
  • Water flows down into gullies
  • Site of ecological significance (context, protected)

About the history of the building:

The Dadley building used to be the home of AUT’s Spatial Design Course as well as Textiles, and included many offices and studios. Before AUT was established, this building was a live in care facility and hospital for disabled children. One of its many facilities included a pool.

Current picture of Dadley building- front view
Back view of Dadley building

What is Bathing?

Before conquering this project, i’m starting with the core of what it’s about. The dictionary definition of bathing is: the washing of the body with a liquid, usually water or an aqueous solution, or the immersion of the body in water. It may be practiced for personal hygiene, religious ritual or therapeutic purposes. By analogy, especially as a recreational activity, the term is also applied to sun bathing and sea bathing.

In Western culture it is considered a very private, and intimate routine to wash oneself and keep clean. I consider it a time to reflect, relax and unwind from a long or tiring day. I find it gives me energy or relieves stress. It brings me joy and warms me up after a cold day, yet can cool me down in summer or after working out. In any way I look at it, I see it as so much more than a period of time in the day to clean and maintain bodily hygiene.

Bathing and other cultures/experiences:

  • spiritual experiences (ritual)
  • private
  • assisted
  • ancient Romans elaborate baths (vikings)
  • life can begin and end in baths
  • washing bodies from cremation and/or afterlife
  • completely immersing the body
  • what does light do to water- experience with the senses
  • renew, rejuvenate, cleanse, “new person”
  • social meeting place

The Bathhouse

A bathhouse is a building containing baths for communal use. Public baths were first created for communal cleaning when people didn’t have access to private ones. They weren’t all completely public though. Some factored in religion, memberships, gender or other reasons.

One of the world’s earliest known public baths was built in the Indus Valley around 2500 BC in the lost city of Mohenjo-daro. Called the “Great Bath”, this large pool constructed of baked brick was excavated in the early 1900s by archaeologists in present-day Pakistan. Public baths were widely used around the Ottoman Empire. Other places included ancient Greece (6th century), Indonesia (8th century), Japan (17 century) and the Roman Empire (19 BC), The first modern public baths (British Empire) were opened in Liverpool in 1829. The first known warm fresh-water public wash house was opened in May 1842. The prioritization of our bathing experiences has meant that there aren’t too many bath houses in Aotearoa.

Ancient Ruins Used as Public Baths by Hubert Robert (1798) (Sourced from Wikipedia)

Things to Consider for the Proposal

  • Storage- where are people storing their belongings?
  • Do people get robes or slippers?
  • Food or drink in the bathing experience?
  • Japanese bath houses and tea in their baths
  • Sensory experience- sound, touch, smell, taste, visuals
  • Materials, light, indoor/outdoor
  • How do people move through the space? I can orchestrate, choreograph this or add drama
  • Be bold with strong ideas
  • here is the water coming from and going to?
  • Ventilation, heating, filtration and cleaning?


In Japan, there is a practice of something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku which means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is taking a break from our daily urban environment and the technology which surrounds us, to take in our natural environment. Shinrin-yoku is said to decrease stress and blood pressure. It is great for focus, mindfulness and connecting ourselves with our bodies and our environment. Although it doesn’t involve any actual bathing in water, I can see how actual forest bathing would only further increase relaxation to one.

My pocket forest

For the first week of class we were asked to individually make little pocket forests, considering the height of our trees, and the forest floor (moss, bark, lichen etc). I went to Cornwall park and One Tree Hill to collect my supplies. They had a large section of moss and lichen I could use. I did not get to fully finish my pocket forest but I would have made my trees taller, and added lichen around the sticks/branches to thicknesses.


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