The Architecture of Bathing
Body, Landscape, Art
424 pp., 8 x 10 in, 115 color illus., 151 b&w illus.
- Published: October 6, 2020
- Publisher: The MIT Press
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.
This engaging volume has no peer. I know of no other work of its scope or mission. If your architectural interest is communal bathing, this is your book.
Leonard Koren, author of Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing and Undesigning the Bath
This unique and impressive publication explores a dizzying array of bathing architectures, traversing buildings, landscapes, people, practices, theories and art. At once detailed, beguiling and thought-provoking, Pearson's polyamorous engagement with bathing lets the reader both learn and take delight.
Iain Borden, Vice-Dean Education and Professor of Architecture & Urban Culture, The Bartlett, University College London
Christie Pearson's The Architecture of Bathing is an enthusiastic, engaged, and adventurous journey through the hydraulic world. With gusto and refined physical knowledge she guides the reader through the architecture of the senses, a field neglected for ages and badly needed today.
Thomas A. P. Van Leeuwen, author of The Springboard in the Pond
"The Architecture of Bathing" by the architect and University of Waterloo professor Christie Pearson, surveys famous, beautiful, and idiosyncratic balneal buildings, along with such objects as tubs and pools that are the props for ablution. Pearson's bathing summary is comprehensive, both historically and geographically.
Literary Review of Canada
"Practically everywhere that bodies of water are accessible for public soaking, the architect and writer Christie Pearson has tried them out while taking glorious notes. Her book, 'The Architecture of Bathing: Body, Landscape, Art,' careens around in time and place and ponders 'the bath's utopian and dystopian aspects.'"
New York Times Book Review