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With more than 2,000 acres of rolling hills, gentle trails, a serene waterfront, and shaded woodlands, Fairmount Park encompasses a diverse range of natural landscapes within its East and West sections. Rather than adopting a one-sided perspective of these landscapes as isolated entities, it is imperative to view them as a dynamic interplay of ongoing relationships within a physical region. The aspiration is for the park to evolve into a shared and collectively cherished space.
The inception of this project was inspired by the traditional Korean bathhouse, characterized by a central gathering area encompassed by multiple smaller rooms with distinct functions. By assimilating this central gathering concept into traditional design principles, the natural site is positioned as the outermost layer, in immediate proximity to the building, while the innermost layer houses the bath. A metaphorical visualization involves using a pair of scissors to dissect a portion of the natural environment and subsequently unfurling nature, the building, and the bath. Thereafter, a reversal is executed, wherein the original atrium is transformed into a new landscape, and the original landscape assumes the role of a novel building atrium. Preserving the unique features of the central wall, which are a direct outcome of this reversal process, is essential.
Six physical models were meticulously crafted through folding, wrapping, twisting, and sewing of materials. These models were scanned to capture their textures and forms, serving as prototypes for the central wall’s folding process. Our project is situated at the heart of the meadow, with the outdoor bath seamlessly integrated into the surrounding grass and trees, while the building occupies a central position within the water body. The central perspective affords a fluid bathing experience, enveloped by cave-like formations, cliffs, and the surrounding landscape. The central island harmoniously blends with the terrain, functioning as both a resting platform and an integral part of the landscape.
The overarching concept of ‘natural reversal’ permeates both the plan and section. Moving closer to the center, the interior profile progressively embraces a more natural and organic aesthetic. The central area offers amenities such as a café, relaxation areas, and a public sauna, while the outer perimeter includes changing rooms, a yoga classroom, and private sauna spaces, all of which provide access to the water.
The selection of materials aligns with our concept. We aimed to establish a unified exterior facade for the building, utilizing a metal grille cladding system with sizable windows concealed behind it. Simultaneously, we envisioned an organic, mountain-like ambiance for the central area’s facade, realized through cast-in-place concrete.