A celebration of communal bathing—swimming pools, saunas, beaches, ritual baths, sweat lodges, and more—viewed through the lens of architecture and landscape.
We enter the public pool, the sauna, or the beach with a heightened awareness of our bodies and the bodies of others. The phenomenology of bathing opens all of our senses toward the physical world entwined with the social, while the history of bathing is one of shared space, in both natural and built environments. In The Architecture of Bathing, Christie Pearson offers a unique examination of communal bathing and its history from the perspective of architecture and landscape. Engagingly written, with more than 260 illustrations, many in color, The Architecture of Bathing offers a celebration of spaces in which public and private, sacred and profane, ritual and habitual, pure and impure, nature and culture commingle.
Pearson takes a wide-ranging view of her subject, drawing on architecture, art, and literary works. Each chapter is structured around an architectural typology and explores an accompanying theme—for example, tub: sensuality; river: flow; waterfall: rejuvenation; and banya: immersion. Offering examples, introducing relevant theory, and recounting personal experiences, Pearson effortlessly combines a practitioner's zest with astonishing erudition. As she examines these forms, we see that they are inextricable from landscapes, bodily practices, and cultural production. Looking more closely, we experience architecture itself as an immersive material and social space, embedded in the interdependent environmental and cultural fabric of our world.