Bathing in Adversity : The Immense Potential of an Environmentally Guided Bathing Architecture Mortimer, Kieran
Modern urban culture in many ways has distanced itself from the adversities that form the climatic, ecological and elemental conditions that surround us, adversities that formed our bodies, habits, and values within out inherited cultures. The glut of information and stimulus present within cities often overstimulates us and pollutes our focus, potentially making us apathetic to the hidden ecosystems our specialization has created. In this lack of adversity, a mismatch has been formed between our bodies and our surroundings that can be easily seen and felt in the crises of mental and physical healthcare, the rapid change of simple daily behaviour, the arguable loss in value of many longstanding cultural traditions, and the degradation of local ecosystems that potentially fuel larger climatic changes. The Industrialized modern lifestyle, and the expected standards of living of the culture it inhabits, seemingly do not place enough value on adversity. The human body is an antifragile system, it needs stress to grow. Furthermore, psychological evidence suggests that overcoming larger and larger stressors acts as a means of both making us more empathetic to the struggle of those around us, but also more in control of our own bodily systems, minimizing the negative impacts of future stress on personal health and better preparing a more competent system of facing challenge. A Communal Bathhouse provides an opportunity to reintroduce some semblance of environmental adversity into the daily lifestyle of its participants, as bathing is a necessary function of human hygiene. Water as a medium holds immense sensorial contrasts, contrasts that can shock and stress the body. A Bathhouse can provide situations of meaningful adaptation that can give the individual a greater sense of bodily autonomy and understanding, a place in communal relation and ritual, and a deeper understanding of the nuances of our natural environmental surroundings through exposure to the outside elements and water bodies.
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