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Circle of nature. An award-winning thermal bath in Iceland designed by Pawel Danielak.

Dobrawa Bies
14 of January '21

{Student}, a graduate of architecture from Poznan University of Technology, won second place in the international competition "Thermal Blue", organized by UNI competitions. The task was to design a thermal bath in Iceland, which, in addition to its therapeutic properties, would be a tourist attraction and a place for integration.

Baths built around hot springs have been used for centuries - since the time of the Romans, people have used the therapeutic properties of water for purification, healing and relaxation. However, over time, the definition of thermal baths has changed. From a place for healing, they have also become spaces for social integration. The baths in Budapest, the lagoons in Iceland, or the springs in Japan are all frequented tourist destinations, significantly influencing the economy and popularity of the respective cities. The Gellert Spa in Budapest is one of the most famous thermal baths, hosting fashion shows and festivals.

Circle of nature –
betonowy budynek spa Łaźnie termalne autorstwa
Pawła Danielaka

"Circle of nature" is a concrete building built around a hot spring

© Pawel Danielak

Icelandic hot springs

The goal of the competition task organized by the UNI competitions platform was to design a thermal bath around an existing hot spring in Iceland, going beyond its primary therapeutic function. With a population of 250,000, Iceland boasts 120 public swimming pools - meaning that virtually every village or neighborhood has one geothermally heated body of water. Icelanders consider access to public pools to be a basic civil right, and hot tubs are so popular that they are considered a classic meeting place for a second date.

Szkic projektowy spa

The projected thermal baths are to be located in Hveragerði

© Pawel Danielak

The competition venue was to be a place to meet and socialize and bring new value to the local context. Participants were to design a thermae in Hveragerði, a town of 9 square kilometers, 45 kilometers from Reykjavik. Hveragerði is located in a highly geothermal area, which, on the one hand, even allows the cultivation of bananas, but on the other hand, makes the area extremely susceptible to earthquakes. A building designed in this location should be made with this risk in mind. The guideline was also to create a distinctive building embedded in the landscape, built with ecological materials and allowing the surrounding nature to be admired. The new building should include, among other things, a reception area, sanitary facilities, spaces for employees, offices, a restaurant, stores and, of course, the most important part with pools and a spa.

spa and sensory experience

Pawel Danielak designed the spa facility on a circular plan, with integration and sensory experiences as its most important concepts.

"Circle of nature" is a complex designed to be a single organism with a whole spectrum of cognitive possibilities. The versatility of this facility makes it possible to undergo a variety of sensory experiences in one place at one time. The space of the circle is of a closed nature, determining the establishment of a dialogue between users. - explains the author.

Rzut budynku term W budynku można się
wyciszyć

The building, built on a circular plan, allows both integration and tranquility

© Pawel Danielak

Thecenter is a hot spring - it is there, according to the author, that the perception of the space changes and all energy accumulates. While bathing, users, will be able to explore various areas of music-visual-performative arts. The second relaxation zone is the saunas facing the mountains surrounding the facility. This location of the wellness zone corresponds with the view of nature, while allowing users to relax and enter into a "dialogue" with silence. The form of the building was inspired by a geyser, and its function and space correlate with each other by fitting into the natural landscape of the site, whose character is emphasized by raw concrete.

Założenia projektowe
budynku spa

The shape of the building was inspired by a geyser

© Pawel Danielak

Pawel Danielak also won first place in the same competition. You can read about his winning project, which is also his master's thesis, here.

Also read about the projects of the Copenhagen Bridge and the Iceland Volcano Museum, which Pawel Danielak co-authored.

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