Thermal Bath House and Spa

Liepaja, Latvia

Competition project, 2014

The proposal reinvents Paul Max Berchi’s early 1902 bath house by integrating it into a new architectural and landscape setting that responds to a variety of public uses linked both to the bath house facilities and the surrounding parkland and nearby beach.

A new walled landscape garden is made to the rear of the bath house, its edge defined by an undulating wall that houses 20 family guest rooms (including two for non-mobile users), as well as a café, restaurant, and spa/massage rooms.  At one end, the wall holds an outdoor/indoor swimming pool, with a rooftop auditorium. The pool, which is accessible to the public, is adjacent to a path to the beach.  Visitors to the beach are able to use the pool’s changing, locker and shower facilities.  

A public route runs from the pool along the outer western edge of the site.  This is oriented toward the beach, and gives public access to the spa hotel’s restaurant, café, and other services.  The sheltered boardwalk allows tables and seating to be placed outside.  The boardwalk connects between the two beach paths to the north and south of the site, and leads past the spa hotel’s reception area toward the car-parking facility.

The interior of the site is conceived as a richly landscaped garden, of a more private character.  The west range of rooms in the old bath house no longer hold iron baths – instead each entire room is converted into a private pool that is accessed through a wardrobe-like changing space.  Their windows become doors, through which bathers can pass into the interior garden along a series of linear landscape strips (sand, pebbles, herbs, etc.).  Sited in each strip is a small outdoor bath that can be rotated to face the sun.

The interior garden is organized around a new conservatory / glasshouse, which replaces the rear pavilion of the Berchi building.  Ramps leading up from the garden give access to the family guest rooms.

The family guest rooms are planned as double height spaces with a mezzanine.  They are screened from the garden by the serpentine wall, which has perforations formed by open joints in its brickwork.  Thermal closure is provided by an internal glass screen.  Each apartment has access to a roof deck, which holds a bath that is cast into the roof.  Views from these look either toward the garden and the old bath house building or else, to the west, toward the expanse of the beach.

The proposal has developed through a process of study, whereby the morphology and programme of the old bath house was drawn out into the landscape and a form of architecture developed in counterpoint to this.


Digital Model: Aikaterini Antonopoulou

Physical model: Richard Collins

Sophia Banou, Piotr Lesniak