The project speculates about a public bathhouse for a possible / nearby (dystopian) future, developed around the two UN Goals - Climate Action & Good Health and Well-Being. The proposal is called "protective skins" and it is about a divided (but related) architecture: a private suit and a public bathhouse - both protecting the human body from different kinds of pollutants (airborne pollution, missing ozone layer, nuclear radiation (wind), acid rain). The proposal is tested in a counterfactual time line on the Japanese island of Hashima – but represents a general proposal. The building functions as a cleaning machine: cleaning suit, human body, environment, and itself.
Analytic computational bottom-up methods were developed around the human body (informing suit and architectural program) and transferred and adapted to the scale of the building: blending the skins of protection and making the building conceptually to the body (with its organs, structure, skin, and metabolism).
The proposal wants to question architect’s romanticized image of nature and the idea of protection solely as a binary on/off condition, as a possible way to rethink our architectural boundaries in general. Additionally, it asks for a critical incorporation of pollution in design – away from pollution as an image and away from seeing pollution as something remote (in terms of time and space).
The architectural boundary of the proposal is shared across a wearable and a building skin – questioning hermetical sealed envelopes of today’s buildings and allowing for a filtering of qualities and (new kinds of) hazards as opposed to blocking them. Hashima island has the right scale for testing the prototypical building as a filtering device in a polluted environment. Additionally, next to a cultural relevance of a bathhouse, the site has a history of industrial exploitation – one of the main sources of today’s climatic issues. The proposition is situated in a speculative counterfactual timeline – where the island was never left due to the change from coal to petroleum in Japan.
“[...] HASHIMA IS WHAT THE WORLD WILL BE LIKE WHEN WE FINISH URBANIZING AND EXPLOITING IT: A GHOST PLANET SPINNING THROUGH SPACE—SILENT, NAKED, AND USELESS.” - Brian Burke-Gaffney, Professor at the Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science
The human body functions as the starting point for the development of the wearable part of the shared boundary. Custom-made algorithms were used to extract different parts of the human body: the basis for the developed information-map-method and a first step – through blending methods and concepts – towards a conceptualization of the building as a metabolic body. The data-set is a collection of anatomical images, ct- and mr-scans of a human body (AustinMan). The development of the wearable skin parts inform floor plan (related to the ceremonial undressing) and needed protection of the two skins.
The building is conceptualized as a ceremonial journey through alternating moments of undressing and body cleaning – from a personal experience towards a collective gathering. Additionally, the internal atmosphere changes from polluted / unprotected, cold and dry to clean / protected, humid and hot – due to the increasing filters on the structure (distinguishable in physical, atmospheric and passive). Methods of positioning, quantifying, and qualifying of filtering layers / devices are shared with the development of the suit discretisation. The positioning of the filtering devices in a synergetic manner makes the building to a cleaning machine / a filtering device on the possible test site Hashima island: cleaning suit, human body, environment and itself. Additionally, different short cuts for staff and visitors and the meeting of systems of clean and contaminated suit parts give the building its own metabolism.