Neeraj Bhatia, Cesar Lopez, Blake Stevenson
Honorable Mention, Baltic Thermal Bath Competition
Steam Stratum is a proposal for a civic building that consolidates the various programs for the thermal bath and park and structures them within a line. This line serves as a threshold between the city of Liepaja and the Baltic Sea — allowing for a public as well as natural interface between the city and the sea. Steam Stratum taps into the rich geologic history of Latvia and the presence of natural thermal baths. Conceived of as an extrusion of the sedimentary rock below, the building is organized into various layers, or strata. These layers are organized to separate and connect the differential programs in a precise manner. As the topographic cut moves through the building it interacts with the different levels to allow for seamless navigation through the linear resort. The thermal baths are organized into one fluctuating datum that is carved into an overall terraced topography. This stone platform can be flooded to differential heights to allow for different pool sizes and configurations to enable flexibility during different seasons. The depth of the pools creates natural temperature differentials and associated amounts of steam. The ceiling of the baths has a precise stepped carving to move the steam to various areas in the ‘cave’ to provide privacy and concealment for more intimate spa programs above. A series of skylights are deployed across the roof plane to exhaust this steam from the building and create a steam park on the roof. The atmospheric qualities of an ephemeral enclosure are leveraged to create a series of soft divisions along the roof park.