Thermal Mass – A thermal bath within the earth

FINALIST of Himalayan Thermal Bath


Himalayan Thermal Bath

Thermal Mass – A thermal bath within the earth


Name: Grace Whittington

Instagram: @grace_whitti       @gwhit_arch

Nationality: American

Institution / Company: Washington University in St Louis; St. Louis, MO, USA

The Gosaikunda lakes in central Nepal formed over millions of years of continuous water movement and erosion from glacial melt. The monumental rock formations and gashes in the earth create an awe-inspiring and treacherous journey for the pilgrims, trekkers, and locals who venture there. During the warmer seasons, a stream connects Gosaikunda to its sister lake, Bhairav Kunda, 60 meters lower in the valley. The stream’s delta contains a collection of craggy rocks and one massive boulder that came to rest on a sheer cliff face over the Bhairav Kunda. 

The intervention expands upon a series of existing shallow dips where the boulder meets the ground, carving beneath the boulder to create an experiential cavern and thermal baths. The underground temperature remains at 18° C throughout the year, allowing the interior to remain tempered despite being open to the outside through a series of carved openings. These openings let in both natural light and fresh air to the pools and saunas while the sound of the stream echoes through the rooms. The experience beneath the boulder in the thermal baths compels users to acknowledge their slightness in a vast landscape and their connections to the earth that surrounds them.

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