If you had googled “spa NYC” prior to 2011, most probably you’d have gotten a few nail & hair salons close to you.
These days, the search for ‘spa nyc’ results in the first four out of nine images displaying the design that Alonso Balaguer developed for Aire Ancient Baths. Narrowing the search to the word ‘baths’ instead, the first nine images out of twelve are related to our design for Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca.
What is a true meaning of the word “Spa”? If we look at Wikipedia, the term is referred to the town of Spa in Belgium, a village well known already during the roman times because of its healing spring waters. At the beginning of the XIX century, this term started to be commonly used to designate any health facility based on healing by water - Salute Per Aquam - at that time mostly related to ‘balneariums’ (health resorts). So there shouldn’t be any doubt the word’s root entails a water related origin.
When Alonso Balaguer completed the first design of Aire Ancient Baths in the US, the aim was to restore the true use of the term ‘spa’ in it’s pure meaning related to the use of water. The focus was not just to provide a relaxation space as any other ‘spa’, but also a place where water could become the center of gravity.
Therefore the design efforts were driven to maximize water features in harmony with the preservation and restoration of the beautiful landmark structure that supports Aire Ancient Baths. The result is a space with six different water bodies, each of them dedicated to a specific treatment. Alongside these water bodies stands a steam room as another way of exploring water. Inside a crystal clear structure, the steam room makes the invisible steam visible, and dissipates the boundaries of water states, from gas to liquid.
So it shouldn’t be a coincidence that those ‘spa nyc’ searches on internet are coming with more and more images related to Aire Ancient Baths. Nevertheless, New York City always had a long tradition of roman inspired bath houses. At the beginning of the XIX century, up to eighteen public baths were built by the municipality in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some of them are still standing, representing some of the best examples of Neo-classic Architecture – such as the Asser Levy Recreation Center.
Alonso Balaguer is collaborating with Aire Ancient Baths in Barcelona, Chicago and New York providing unique expertise and advice on spa design. To find out more, please visit the wellness folder in our web site to discover other spa-related projects, including spa programs as part of larger sports facilities.