Lakefront urban spa kiosks with Roman roots designed for Chicago architectural competition

by Jane Kitchen | 21 Sep 2015

One of the entries for the Chicago Architecture Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition featured an idea for a 2,000sq ft (186sq m) urban Urban Therme spa created by designers Kyle Bigart, Andrew Sommerville and Alex Paulette.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a new event that the City of Chicago is putting on this year to open up a dialogue with the public about architecture and design.

Hosted by the Biennial, the Lakefront Kiosk Competition asked for proposals of a retail kiosk to be built along the city’s lakeshore, with certain limitations including size, budget and mobility.

“Living in Chicago, we know that the lakefront is heavily congested during the summer, but during the cold winter months, the lakefront quickly becomes desolate,” said Bigart.

The team looked at winter activities like ice fishing or a warming hut for die-hard runners, but ultimately ditched those ideas, as they wouldn’t have wide-scale appeal.

“A spa, which is both public and private at the same time, eventually emerged as the clear and best way to solve all these issues,” said Bigart. “Although it clearly wasn’t what the prompt or competition was exactly looking for, we knew it was an idea people needed to hear. We wanted people to start thinking of the lakeshore as what it can become rather than what it currently is.”

The Urban Therme spas are designed in mobile kiosks and made to serve multiple spa experiences, including hot and cold baths and dry saunas. The plan calls for a “herd of spas” to move along the lakeshore.

The team researched ancient Roman spas for inspiration.

“The logic is beautifully simple – spas have existed for thousands of years, and this way we didn’t need to invent any new technology, but learned to adapt Roman technology for our modern-day kiosk,” said Bigart. “This design process followed through to every aspect of the kiosk, like lifting the roof for sky views, which then also doubles as a rain catchment system.”

The team has designed the spa kiosks to include a roof cavity that acts as a rainwater catchment, which is stored in a series of reservoir tanks embedded in the back wall. A solar water heater maintains consistent temperatures where needed, and water is cleaned through an electro-magnetic filtration system powered by 24v batteries kept charged by photovoltaic paneling.

During the summer months, the kiosks become a shady respite for beachgoers, as the units point east, utilising the cool lake breeze from its large covered patio. During winter, the kiosks face the opposite way, shielding from the wind and looking towards Chicago’s skyline.

While Urban Therme was ultimately not the winner of the competition, Bigart said the reception from the public and the spa community has been so positive that it’s made the team think more about the project’s future.

He said while the project was contextually designed for Chicago, it could work in other cities – particularly those with the same cold weather lakefront issues.

“If there is continued interest at this level, I think we will start to look into refining the idea more and turning the conceptual idea into a more realistic project, and hopefully someday in the future realise the Urban Therme idea,” he said.

One of the entries for the Chicago Architecture Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition featured an idea for a 2,000sq ft (186sq m) urban Urban Therme spa created by designers Kyle Bigart, Andrew Sommerville and Alex Paulette. The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a new event that the City of Chicago is putting on this year to open up a dialogue with the public about architecture and design. Hosted by the Biennial, the
The spa kiosks were the team's idea to bring people to the lakefront during the cold winter months / Urban Therme
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6219     
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6219     
company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
At the Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat, reclaimed brick walls create multiple courtyard enclosures
Rossana Hu studied at the University of California at Berkeley, where she met Lyndon Neri
"Interior projects carried out by architects have a depth that’s generally lacking today"

Neri & Hu’s latest project

Koen Olthuis. His Blue Habitat project is an arficial coral reef aiming to raise awareness
"You could have cultural events and museums that go from city to city. It’s a new way of thinking"

Rising sea levels and a shortage of land are leading to increased interest in floating buildings. We take a look at some fascinating projects

The Yongsan park site is bigger than Central Park
Adriaan Geuze
"The profile of landscape architecture has been raised by international cities competing with one another"

How the West 8 founder is using the healing power of nature on a Korean site with a turbulent history

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
Three raised white stone volumes will be constructed
Theoni Xanthi Partner XZA Architects
"The design concept is to create a museum that evokes a transition in time, in space, in memory"

The vision for the New Cyprus Musuem

Vera Iconica recently merged with Longhi Architects, launched by Luis Longhi
Schreibeis Smith set up Vera Iconica Architecture in 2010
"Wellness is essentially an insurance policy to promote physical and mental long term health"

Raising the profile of wellness architecture

The MACRO contemporary art museum, Rome
Decq has been recognised for raising the profile of women in architecture
"Things have improved, but not enough"

On women in architecture

"We want to create the illusion that guests are entering another world when they arrive at the resort"

An Icelandic spa retreat inspired by surrealist folk tales

Rosewood Sanya
Ed Ng
"Of all hospitality design, we feel that F&B is the most fun. You can be creative and it’s where you get all the limelight"

When ABConcept’s co-founder got The brief for the Four Seasons’ Mei Ume restaurant, he jumped straight on the plane to London. He tells us why

cladkit product news
Matteo Thun Atelier create hospitality collection inspired by Mediterranean atmosphere
The collection is designed to integrate with numerous architecture and interior projects across the hospitality sector
Kim Megson
The studio of Italian architect and designer Matteo Thun have produced a new range of wooden furniture designed for everything ...
AB Concept partners with House of Tai Ping for luxurious rug collection
The collection was inspired by the idea of looking down at the world from a great height
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design house AB Concept has partnered with bespoke rug specialist Tai Ping to create Nephele, an exclusive line of handcrafted ...
Hotel Crescent Court opens new spa following multi-million-dollar renovation
Hotel Crescent Court has reopened its spa after a multi-million dollar refurbishment
Lauren Heath-Jones
Hotel Crescent Court, a luxury hotel in Dallas, Texas, has reopened its spa and fitness centre after completing a multi-million-dollar ...
cladkit product news
Brdr. Krüger to exhibit at IMM Cologne
The Theodor chair was named after studio co-founder Theodor Krüger
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish furniture company Brdr. Krüger will showcase a range of new and existing pieces at international interiors show, IMM Cologne. ...
Ma Yansong debuts out of this world furniture collection
Ma Yansong was inspired by science fiction and the possibility of life on Mars
Lauren Heath-Jones
Curation-led design gallery Gallery ALL debuted the MAD Martian Collection at Design Miami. Designed by Ma Yansong, founder and principal ...
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
cladkit product news
FAÇADE2017 winners 'diverse and remarkable', says SFE board member
Ramboll was awarded for the Blavatnik Building, Switchouse Extension of the Tate Moder
Lauren Heath-Jones
A trio of British leisure facilities have been honoured in the Façade2017 awards. Established in 2013 by the Society of ...
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates