The Romans had the Baths of Caracalla, we have Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s Thermal Baths Vals. Built into the hillside of Graubünden, Switzerland, the quarry-like spa was named a National Monument two years after its completion in 1996 (talk about fast tracked). Let's go there—now.
When the town of Vals, a canton of Graubünden, Switzerland, hired Peter Zumthor to design their thermal baths, he was an undiscovered talent. The project put the architect and the baths on the map. Zumthor achieved cult status (he won the Pritzker Prize in 2009), and the thermal baths became a mecca for architects around the world. With extensive experience in conservation architecture, Zumthor used his knowledge of rustic building materials to create a tactile and sensory series of modern spaces organized around the primal ritual of bathing, achieving pure poetry in space.
For information about hotel accommodation, go to Therme Vals.
Above: A relaxation area overlooks the hills of Graubünden. Image via Flickr.
Above: The building was constructed of local Valser quartzite and concrete. Image via Open House.
Above: The spa has several bathing areas, both inside and outside. Image via Arch1101.
Above: Zumthor's architecture provides a tactile interface between nature and man. Image via ArchDaily.
Above: After undressing, the bather enters the baths ceremoniously by descending a perfectly proportioned stairway. Image via Velux Stiftung.
Above: The waters beckon; image via Velux Stiftung.
Above: The building is organized around a series of cubic volumes holding baths of different temperatures, showers, and places for sweating, drinking, or resting. Image via StudioEm.
Above: Swimming in the water brings the bather from one cubic volume to another. After swimming into the central bath, the bather can move into the outdoor bath and then to the outdoor swimming areas. Image via Flickr.
Above: Daylight filters in through slits open to the sky above. Image via Velux Stiftung.
Above: The outdoor bath, with green roof, emerges out of the hillside. Image via ArqPres.