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THE BOW CREEK CULTURAL BATHHOUSE A STRUCTURAL EXPLORATION Below are some key decisions made for important aspects of the bathhouse. The building design came mainly from the ideas behind the design of the roof, and so the roof drove the design of the interior conditions and layout and how to create, manage and manipulate these conditions. As this layer formed a pixelated skin over the users, it was important not to lose the connection with the view of his roof and its function. This is when the cutural patters reflected in the timber roof structure came into being. A permeable and readable structure, created from timber, allowing the steam and moisture over time to patternate the surface of the wood, so the structure comes alive with moss and lichen.



1 The typical British weather plays a huge role in my building. Whether hot and sunny or wet and windy, each season will impact the atmosphere below. Through light penetration, the growth of nature, water collection or views, the user will notice the effects of nature in every use of the building.

2 Along with the design of the roof as a participatory Fudo layer, a further pixelation of the moulded structural theory was added, along the ideas of Archemedian polygons and more specifically that of a modified version of the Icosidodecahedron. With the combination of a steel frame, moulded glass, the use of colour and laminate layers in the glass for shading, these biodomes not only cultivate the nature specific to each cultural experience and its environment below, but the environment within the entire building.

3 These environments may, though, need further control at certain times. For example an excess of moisture, heat or condensation, and so natural ventilation of the entire building can be controlled through these roof atriums. Venting panels within the geometry are installed on the domes to automatically open up when sensors, set to maintain temperature and humidity are tripped in each area. This allows the building to breathe and invites weather to become an actor in the experience.





To prevent the greenhouse effect and over-heating of the interior. Also, to avoid discomfort for the user of direct sunlight.

The construction of the timber roof structure and its secondary use as a shading device.

Venting of the domes in order to mediate the interior temperature. Preventing over heating and condensation on the interior glass.

The capturing of rain and condensation to harvest and use in the cultivation of an interior nature landscape.





Yoshimasa Tsutsumi: Anzas Dance Studio

Top: Jurgen Mayer H: Metropol Parasol Bottom: Sheffield Moor Market Roof

Top: Ingenhoven Architects: European Investment Bank Bottom: Renzo Piano: California Academy of Science

Top: Renzo Piano: California Academy of Science Bottom: Nicholas Grimshaw: The Eden Project

This dance studio employs a gradient of small dots to create the impression of mist decending from above, instantly creating a completely different atmosphere to the usual glass walled studio. There is an instant blurring of the space’s boundaries, creating an ‘infinite’ feeling.

Top: The undulating landscape of the Metropol Parasol is the desired effect my cultural paths aim to create. Undulating slotted wood create a roof landscape that adds to the look of depth. The issue with this particular example is the fact that the timber is in sheets, and so little light entry would penetrate the geometry.

Top: The pixelated glazing design of the investment bank demonstrates a similar idea to my roof. The main difference being, thought, that the bathhouse roof will be more of a landscape made up of less regular pieces of glass, with some moulded to crete light effects within. The windows within this design are manually operated, whereas within the Bow Creek bathhouse, I propose self operating systems that open and close depending on sensors and environment below.

Top: Piano also uses a reverse osmosis humidification system in order to maintain the optimum environment for growth and cultivation. This system using recycled water from the water catchers as well as from condensation could be employed within the Bathhouse in orer to maintain humidity levels within some of the experiences, namely the Japanese Onsen environment.

4 Working with nature also are the negative gravity water catchers directly harvesting the weather and more specifically rain. These can be accessed and harvested within the building for plant watering, maintenance and cleaning, becoming cyclical to a certain extent.

5 This whole frame becomes a transparent skin over the entire building, meeting the below cultural patterned timber roof structure with upright brackets. The skin wraps around the edge meeting the brick walls below.

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6 Underneath this skin the environment is created, containing the heat, steam, condensation, internal rain, freezing temperatures, foliage and nature that denote each cultural bathing experience. Each spilling over into communal areas and the spectator level, the cultures merge to create intrigue and a magical interior world.

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7 This excess steam is escaping from the Greek balnea sweat room. Situated next to a cold ice room, the spectators can look down into the baths and walk through extremely differing environments, creating intrigue and knowledge through not only participation and experiencing the cultural promenades, but also observation. 8 The isolated room of the Russian sauna with it’s three steam chimneys, eminates hot air from afar. I wonder what’s going on over there.

9 The Japanese baths create an ambient heat, forming a mist that crawls towards the central atrium, across the interior landscape.

This method I propose using within the bathhouse. Using a gradient of dots, from larger and more closely packed at the top of the domes and on flatter areas of roof glazing over the top of the areas that people inhabit more for relaxing and communal spaces, as well as the areas that rely on being cooler and at a comfortable temperature. As the domes come closer to the ground, the gradient dispurses and the dots get smaller, allowing more light entry. Hotter areas within the experiences also may rely on hotter temperatures and so less shading needed.

Bottom: The bottom example is the new market roof to the Sheffield Moor Market, attached to an existing building adjacent, it arches over the entrance of the market. The pieces of glu lam are attached using steel nodes. This construction technique will allow the light to penetrate, as well as being flexible enough to change the geometry to allow for each of my differing cultural structures.

10 The central atrium acts as a tall and airy space above head, becoming a melting pot for all conditions.

11 Appertures in the wall that wraps the whole building allow for views out. As the building is an elevated island, situated atop a paninsula, the views out across the local areas of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Stratford and Canary Warf, maintain the connection between the user and place.


In order to avoid too much condensation, proficient use of the ventilation system will minimise its effects on the glass roof. Harvesting of the condensation could provide the building with maintenence and planting water. Considdering the average family can produce 20 litres in their everyday activities, excess moisture in the Bathhouse could cut down its reliance on the mains.

12 The walls, exterior and interior, are created from local reclaimed brick. Not only does this take inspiration from the local fabric of the area, as well as it’s industrial heritage, but it also maintains the theory of Fudo between place and history.

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Both of these theories can be combined within the Bow Creek Bathhouse, as the timber roof structure can work with the glass laminate to act as louvres and a second layer of shading for within the building. The timber over time will soften with the growth of mosses, the structure blending into the surroundings as both grow together.

Bottom: This project by Renzo Piano is a brilliant comparison to the type of technology I want the Bow Creek Bthhouse to utilise in maintaining environments below. The skylights here are strategically placed and open and close usign high tech temperature monitors, allowing for natural ventilation throughout the building.




LEFT: Previous structural sketches attempting to demonstrate how the roof, environment and ecology will co-inhabit the space below the roof.

13 The underbely of the building is the ‘basement’ or ‘lower ground floor’ of the bathhouse. It contains the all participatory community programmes that will draw people into the building who don’t necessarily want to participate in the bathing. It holds a local history centre, with a room dedicated to the history of the site and it’s transformation into the bathhouse and beyond. It also houses a shop, selling books on the area, local artists work as well as cuttingf from plants cultivated within the building for people to grow at home. A cafe also, which can be accessed directly from the exterior ramp, or through the building, with a terrace for those unusually sunny days. The changing rooms are found here also, for easy access for disabled visitors, and access from above or below for others, gives the feeling of emerging into a different world when entering the bathing level. Glimpses of the bathhouse can be seen through the pipes penetrating through the level.

1 - Entering the American Sweat Lodge 2 - Entering the Japanese Onsen 3 - Within the Greek Cold Room 4 - Within the Russian Steam Room 5 - View in Atrium

14 The access that already exists on site for car users straight from the A1020 has ben maintained, and the car park that exists can be used. Access on site is predominantly by foot, though, as the approach and landscape the building sits within must be experienced slowly through an unregimented meander. Car use and access is also dissuaded, with access by foot or public transport given more emphasis.

15 The DLR and underground rail line that leads to Canning Town station, with direct access via a bridge onto the peninsula makes public access from further a field easier. Access is also extended from Lommo Park Ecology Park on the peninsula adjacent.


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16 Access by boat is an important way of crawing visitors from other areas further affield to visit the building and future ecology park. The River Lea leads North, and is a popular route for long boat owners and day trippers. If boats can be moored, a new community can visit the building, or just simply the landscape.

17 The geography of the landscape itself is a key aspect not only to the design of the bathhouse, but also to the building being rooted in context as a bathhouse for the community of East London. The imprint of the ground that exists through its long history of boat building and industrial use has created pockmarked and scarred landscape. This landscape has then been re-created in the bathing level, a direct representation with the dips and groves becoming the baths. The user has the feeling of walking over a familiar yet surprisingly new landscape. Nothing beneath the building is lost, but preserved within the bathhouse’s fabric.


LEFT: A booklet documenting some views at the entrance to, and within some of the experiences within Bow Creek Bathhouse.

THE FUDO OF THE BOW CREEK CULTURAL BATHHOUSE WEATHER, NATURE, STRUCTURE AND EXPERIENCE A pixelated representation of The Bow Creek Cultural Bathhouse and all the important elements that create, effect and embelish the experience of visiting the building and its cultural meanders. Pixelation, structure, transparency and culture were the main ideas driving the design from the roof down, in the creation of a new and innovative design for a Fudo skin that would act as a landmark and participatory member in the use of the building. History, community, location and ecology were the more personal and contextual clues used to create a building, inside and out, that could be visited and enjoyed by the whole of the surrounding area.

Bottom: Grimshaw’s Eden Project is known world wide for creating multiple and differing environments under extensive biodomes in Cornwall. Using many different technologies to re-create many different environments, including; Mediterranean, Tropical and the outdoors (more temperate climates). It also contains an education facility and classrooms for the education of people on climate and ecology. It also simply displays this in information boards around the planting. To increase people’s awareness in nature, information on the plants in the Bathhouse could be included, as well as that I propose cutting be avaliable for sale and cultivation at home.

THE BOW CREEK CULTURAL BATHHOUSE A TRIP TO THE BATHHOUSE Above is a booklet showing 5 chosen views through the building the user would experience at specific points in their meander through their chosen cultural bathing experience. The key in designing the movement through the building was, on the path to an experience, to give glimpses of the destination but never reveal the entire location. Glimpses, sounds and environments can be seen, heard and felt respectively, but never all at once. Only when the last corner is rounded can the user be fully engulfed by the environment of their chosen destination.




Hand drawn views taken at the entrance to each cultural bathing experience as well as at a chosen point within the atrium.




Large A1 box shet and booklet  

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