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Above is an architectural plan from Rome aptly called the villa for a rich merchant from the early part of the 19th Century. Surely it would have included a bath. Check out the plan.

Water in architecture is somewhat of a stepchild. At best we get a pond if zoning allows it, or during some great exhibition event in the past 100 years the architects surely would include a fountain. Paris 1900, St. Louis 1904 and not to forget the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 all had site designs that included either fountains or other waterworks.

What about the private citizen today that wants to go beyond a pond, the jacuzzi, the sauna? Perhaps that is not enough of a task for the cad driven architects today. Water, the bath and the physical body culture started way back in Roman and Greek times. No, not in those barbarian lands above the Alps those citizens would have to go where?

Fast forward, in the second half of the 19th Century two major types of public institutions were founded. The hi-brow “kur Ort” or spa in places like Baden-Baden, Germany or the town of Spa in Belgium or Abano, Italy and other towns in Italy or France where one adapted the various types of “Turkish baths” so well known throughout the Ottoman Empire. The lo-brow communal bath house for the common man who would have to take his bath not with a glass of bubbles but seated among those blackened other folk in a giant type swimming pool.

Below is a drawing of a facade for an Italian spa around 1890. The opulence of the facade makes one yearn for beauty to be encountered, before taking to the waters.And here yes, here is the rarest find, a set of drawings for an Italian lo-brow communal bath house. Any other questions?

the bath 1the bath2