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Delubrum Aquae
London, England

Bathing Sanctuary + Water Purification Centre

Of the universal truths that connect us all, water is among the most fundamental: human cultures have an intrinsic understanding of our reliance on water as an integral part of our very being.  Water supports life, growth, agriculture, the cycles of our seasons. This understanding has, over time, been translated into religious, dogmatic, and spiritual practices, with a great many of the world’s organized religions demonstrating an awareness of the sacred element through ritual washing, baptism, steam bathing, immersion practices, and myth, often serving as a ceremonial assistant in the purification and ablution of the self and soul.


And yet, perhaps because of its critical role in our lives, water is increasingly controlled as a commodity, a valuable resource to be acquired and sold.  Our waterways are buried, controlled, polluted.  We are disconnected from water, and as such, we are disconnected from each other.


We are faced with an imminent need to reconsider the ways in which we have removed ourselves from our environment and actively change our understanding of our connectedness to the systems around us, and to one another.  The project seeks to illuminate the sacred nature of water by acknowledging water’s role as ritual healer and purifier, but also by recognizing the deteriorating health of the waters that surround us, by creating a direct and physical connection between water and our most visceral learning mechanism, our skin. Bathers are caressed by the loving embrace of water and are invited to reflect, submerged, on its importance. This sanctuary is also a temple to the purification of water itself – pools are inset among a system of bio-swales and aeration ponds that seek to address the deteriorating health of the surrounding canals and locks.  In this way, the ritual of ablution is cyclical - water is both purifying agent and purified element.

proposal | design competition

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