the school studio

Urban Therme

Year Round Lakefront Spa Experience

Single Kiosk that is expandable to a herd of spa experiences traversing the shoreline.
Project Type: Competition
Team: Kyle B, Andrew Sommerville, Alex Kaplan
Program: Lakefront Kiosk
Prompt: Chicago 2017 Architecture Biennial

Sixty to seventy thousand people visit the 18 miles of the iconic Chicago lakefront each day during the summer months according to a 2010 Chicago Park District (CPD) study; and during the winter, the lakefront is incredibly under-utilized. The stated capacityis somewhere around fifty thousand people per day, meaning the path during the summer is dangerous and over-crowded. Urban Therme seeks to enable a dynamic winter activation by blurring the boundary between culture, lifestyle, and retail.

Urban Therme would be a joint venture between the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago that brings the spa experience to the Chicago lakefront, serving as the sole retail component of the kiosk. The form takes on a powerful simplicity, beginning with a standard rectangular kiosk enclosure. The interior spaces are then carved from within to create a monolithic space with sliding doors that plays with the concept of open / close, mimicking the public and private duality of communal bathing.

The kiosk is designed to accommodate three separate types of spa experiences: hot bath, cold bath, and dry sauna. The kiosks can be positioned together in couples or groupings of three to provide a more holistic experience. The main spa hub that provides towels, reservations, and additional services will be a grouping of 4 kiosks. These groupings will move as a herd along the lakefront, re-locating to enhance and provide new views of the lake and skyline, creating a unique micro-climate and experience in each new location.

The kiosks create niches of private activity during the over crowded summer months, and points of intrigue and activation in the winter. The program provides a dynamic space for personal wellness, forcing the users to rethink the traditional day-spa. No longer is it only an exclusive opportunity, but something that can be experienced by many, at a moment’s notice. It has the unique position to serve locals, but also accomplish the expressed tourism goals of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

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