Between sky and water

A bathhouse with patterns of perception


AUTHOR: Rei Celo
PLACE: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
YEAR: 2017
STATUS: Unbuilt
INSTAGRAM: @reicelo


The purpose of this project was to design a bathhouse in downtown  Atlanta. Given the diverse, cosmopolitan and international demographic, the project allowed us to consider bathing within a variety of cultural registers.

There are three main bathing cultures that take place in this project, the hammam, the Japanese onsen and the sauna. My intention is designing a project around two main ideas, a world made of steam and a world made of water. The steam world is represented by rooms, the world made of water is represented by a free plan and these two are connected by a mezzanine level.

The concept of these two worlds came as a result of a series of charcoal drawings that show the process and rituals of tea preparation. Looking at these drawings there are two states that were always present throughout the process, the condensation and the liquid state. This made me think of two different “worlds” that ended up as two different programs/architectural spaces in my project.

This was the main idea that was later developed based on other inspirations like the painting of Magritte – The castle of Pyrenees – and the work of Grafton Architects for Luigi Bocconi University in Milan. These two made me think of my project as not only two different worlds but also two or even three layers of transparency.

The ground floor level that I call the landscape is a free plan with a variety of heights as you move from the entrance to the last space that is the one of a lap pool. This variety of heights allows me to create some privacy on the ground floor while still using a curtain wall.

As you move from the ground floor to the last floors, from the pools to the hammam, spaces become more intimate thus more opaque. So, the ground floor or the free plan becomes transparent and the last floors or the rooms (the hammams) seem like three floating rooms with cracks of light separating them from each other.

As about the graphic choices, my intention was showing the sensory experience that one can have during different rituals of bathing, but also the mysterious and dark spaces with light coming only from the ceiling that make the whole process even more spiritual. I was also very interested in patterns. Especially in plans and sections, all the patterns that I use for the paving show how different function and quality define each space.


Rei Celo studied: [2013-2017] ENSA La Villette Paris (Bachelor of Architecture); [2017-2018] Georgia Institute of Technology (Exchange year); [2018-2020] (upcoming) City College of New York (Master of Architecture II).

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