If you’re a fan of the incredible timber net houses in Hastings or you’ve been to Dungeness then the architecture of this temporary experimental spa and bar will be right up your street. And even if you haven’t seen any of the above, but you DO like relaxing and drinking then the Barking Bathhouse is for you.
Something & Son were commissioned by arts agency Create to build a new social space to replace the old public bathhouse in Barking; the former functioned for over 87 years serving as a hotspot for local residents (Barkingnites? Barkers?) but sadly closed in 1986.
But now these elegant black-stained cluster of timber “sheds” have made Barking a real destination this summer and given even the most sustainable, stylish Scandinavian architecture a run for its money. The interlocking beautifully designed buildings offer a route through a sequence of different spaces and spa experiences that’s rather unique.
The attention to detail is great – railway sleepers line the inner walls of the small shingle low-fi beach area and the relaxation garden’s decking folds up into chairs for you to recline post sauna or massage. The eerie ice room with large polystyrene clad door is the closest I’ve felt to being inside a big fridge while the central bar space is flooded with light from the transparent polycarbonate roof and feels semi-tropical with the canopy of cucumber vines. I also learnt that cucumbers grow on vines (unexpected)!
The sheds are all prefabricated and have been designed so that after this project they can be relocated individually or together on another site. Something & Son have celebrated our obsession with craft and making, finding a happy medium between beauty in the bespoke and a raw, standardised (semi-industrial) aesthetic.
And, for the ultimate experience while sipping on a orange, mango and banana smoothie you can also enjoy a philosophical talk, some comedy or laughing workshop (WHOA), offered through the programme of events. This is the perfect spa for design lovers to explore!
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- Rob Bailey talks through creating over 40 posters for London Underground
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