Tara Paashuis’s medal award-winning project, The Bath, is a design concept for an inclusive, socially responsible recreational centre. Here’s how she describes it:
My thesis project is called The Bath, and it centers around the adaptive re-use of a vacant 1930’s incinerator on a 5.5-acre brownfield site in the Junction. By reintroducing a variety of social bathing traditions, the design focuses on the senses and activities unmediated by digital technology. Accessible, inter-generational programming, and exchanges of “waste” or surplus (water, heat and revenue) helps to establish beneficial and sustainable relationships between buildings and within the community.
What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?
I knew that I wanted to focus on a public bath, and I feel strongly that re-using existing buildings is far more sustainable than tearing down old ones or developing precious greenfields. The task was to locate an urban site that was underutilized, then figure out how to get Torontonians into the idea of a communal bath. The programming combines the accepted notions of recreation centres and luxury spas, and the complementary activities one might enjoy before and after, like a great meal, a walk in the garden, crafts or seasonal events. I really wanted to transform a forgotten area into an accessible, memorable place.
What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?
The spatial requirements and recommendations for swimming pools, diving boards and universal design are quite complex. I researched these areas heavily. I also visited as many spas and pools as I could in Toronto, New York and Montreal. I learned to listen to the mechanical aspects of the space, and I became quite fussy about these details. Things like the water returns in the pools, the ventilation noises and the dripping of water had the capacity to either delight or disappoint.
What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I just kept pushing — continued researching, refining my design, exploring the possibilities of my site, trying new ways of model making and learning new techniques for digital rendering.
How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?
To be honest, I had been working so hard and hadn’t slept much and thought that I must have dreamed the phone call. I didn’t let myself believe it until I saw the email too. It was really overwhelming in a positive way!
What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?
Certainly the support of some really great teachers! I loved the camaraderie of the open studio, and will really miss all of our workshops. Having access to ceramics, wood, metal, plastic and rapid prototyping under one roof makes all the difference in the type of work you can explore and complete.
What are you planning to do next?
I plan on getting my LEED credentials and furthering my education in architecture, but would like more practical experience first. I recently finished a design/build project with some classmates (portagecollective) in support of The Stop Community Food Centre’s annual Night Market. It’s great to have something actually built!
Find out more about Tara Paashuis: