Madrid-based architectural firm Moneo Brock Studio has designed the Termas de Tiberio project to accommodate the thermal baths in Panticosa, Spain.
+ Project description courtesy of Moneo Brock Studio
Our project for a new building to house the thermal baths clearly attempts to reinterpret the thermal tradition at Panticosa. The Balneario had developed in the late 19th century and early 20th century in a number of ways that we thought needed to be challenged. In the first place, the atmosphere was established by the general planning, where buildings were set at right angles to one another along streets and around open areas (parks and plazas), essentially reproducing the typical 19th century city on a minute scale. The collection of buildings hardly reached the scale of a small city neighborhood, and yet for all appearances, one must have been able to imagine in those days visiting the Balneario – if one could possibly ignore the stunning and imposing cirque of 3,000-meter peaks surrounding the place – that one was in a small neighborhood of a capital city of Europe.
This strange sense of the displacement of an essentially urban plan to a wild, almost savage environment was possible because of the near absolute flatness of the glacial moraine left at the center of the cirque at its base, a peculiar geological condition of sudden “tameness” in the middle of a terrific terrain that can only be seen as forbidding to non-mountaineers.
We saw this older development of the Balneario as a strange denial of the real situation of the thermal springs in a rugged landscape, and therefore sought from the very beginning to reinsert, or reassert the wilderness of the place; we wished to give the mountain back its voice. More than just acknowledge the natural landscape that surrounds our building, we wanted to make it a player in the architecture.
Beyond the general planning strategy at the Balneario, we also wanted to challenge the implicit methodology of the “treatments” to be found at the old Balneario. In its heyday, Panticosa was the typical sort of place where people would go for a “cure” by “taking the waters”. As such, the atmosphere of the old treatment areas was clinical, both in the physical aspect of the installations and in the way that they were used. Visits to each type of treatment were medically prescribed, and “patients” were all given a strict regimen to follow during their stay. Without negating in anyway the curative potential of a visit to the thermal springs, we wanted to update the concept of the Balneario to a more modern idea. Treatments are less thought of as clinical in nature, and visitors are freer to define their needs and desires and goals as they relate to the experience of “bathing” at the Balneario.
This sort of modernization of Baths installations is common everywhere you go. Nonetheless, many Baths installations retain a sense of severity in their architecture. I would include in this characterization the Baths at Vals, a brilliant project by Peter Zumthor. What we were looking for in our project was a brighter and more playful approach, where light, views, and a fluid internal relationship of spaces might draw visitors through the installations, encouraging a sense of discovery over that of a programmed itinerary, encouraging a meandering kind of experience where the nature of one’s “ailment” and its “treatment” may be one’s own to discover.
+ Project credits / data
Project: Termas de Tiberio
Location: Panticosa, Huesca, SPAIN
Owner: Aguas De Panticosa
Date Project Completed: January 2008
Total Square Footage: 91,500 sq. ft. (8.500 m2)
Architecture Firm: Moneo Brock Studio SL
Project Architect: Belén Moneo, Jeff Brock
Project Team: Iñigo Cobeta ,Silvia Ferdizz, David Goss, Mathias Schútte, Benjamín Llana, Brenda Moczygemba, María Pierres, Sandra Formigo, Andrea Caputo, Spencer Leaf, Andrés Barrón, Clara Moneo
Photographer: Roland Halbe & Jeff Brock
Interior Design Project Team: Belén Moneo, Jeff Brock ,Silvia Ferdizz, María Pierres
Landscape: Isaac Escalante (CES Arquitectura del Paisaje)
Lighting consultant: DIAZ Y OSORIO
MEP Engineer: KLIMAKAL, EMTE, SWIM AND DREAM, IMOGEP, BIOSALUD
Civil / Structural Engineer: NB35 Jesús Jiménez
General Contractor: UTE Panticosa: HINACO + LENA Construcciones
Architect of Record: Moneo Brock Studio SL