The Botijo Resort
By Malati Vasudevan
Interior Design 3 | nerea feliz
Our project site is located in Austin and my goal was to integrate Austin’s strong culture of swimming outdoors and just generally being outdoors into the overall design of my bathhouse.One of the advantages of Incorporating such a large central area of open-air space within my bathhouse is that it reduces the overall energy consumption that a building this size could have used if it was all indoor and mechanically conditioned. This also provided some opportunities to incorporate sustainable building materials that would be conducive to more passive means of conditioning. The primary material used for many of my spaces was inspired by Botijos, which are traditional ceramic water jugs from Spain. Botijos are made of terracotta and the capillarity of the unglazed terracotta allows for the water to absorb and rise within the pores, and eventually evaporate. Through the process of evaporation, the interior part of the botijo is kept cool along with the water. For example, within the shower space, water leftover from showering will evaporate through the unglazed terracotta walls and therefore provide passive cooling within this space. I’ve used the same methodology for the cold plunge pool located in the courtyard and hosted within a similar terracotta earthen structure. I wanted to take advantage of the thermal mass properties of terracotta, through the use of it within the sauna. There’s going to be near-infrared lighting within the space which will help heat the space, but the terracotta walls will store and contain that heat within the space and therefore provide passive means of heating. The goal was to have the mechanically conditioned indoor spaces be a means of calibration for the guests in response to the outdoor climate. For example, in the summer months when it’s really hot, the indoor spaces will be all be cooled, including the pools. Whereas during the colder weather, the indoor spaces will be heated, and the pools will be heated as well. Another aspect of the botijo that inspired me was its form with its two spouts, one for drinking out of and another for filling the jug with water. I found these funneled forms to be fascinating, and I designed many of the spaces to have multiple funneled appendages that are used in various ways. For example, within the shower space, some of the appendages host artificial lighting that are powered through photovoltaic panels. Others are open and stream in natural light, while some of the appendages host faucets that provide additional streams of water to accompany the rain shower. The plan in constructing the terracotta structures is through the use of 3d-printing technology on site. This will help in reducing the need for formwork and transportation of material as well as, minimizing manual labor (less labor costs). Overall this will significantly help in decreasing the embodied energy accumulated through the construction of the building. As for the main building interior, the goal was to create a perimeter circulation that was very orthogonal and straightforward to contrast the open-air courtyard environment with its organic forms and circulation. So, as you move through the bathhouses the views out into the courtyard are blurred, through the use of sand-blasted glass.... You only see some color, shadows and silhouettes...the idea is that it’s supposed to trigger your curiosity and entice you to explore the outside courtyard. The sandblasted glass has an added benefit of diffusing the transmittance of direct light and reducing the more harmful UV rays admitted into the building. The diffused light doesn’t lessen the brightness of the light but rather allows for more optimal dispersion of it versus clear glass. The sandblasted glass helps to maintain the indoor temperature by tempering the heat allowed in through sunlight filtration. The reduction of heat gain due to the use of sandblasted glass over clear glass helps lower the usage of mechanical systems and equipment to condition the interior, overall allowing for more energy conservation. I purposefully chose a very monochromatic color scheme on the main interior spaces for three main reasons. One, was that the interior pools have activated carbon mixed in them and the activated carbon can stain the finishes, therefore, a dark color was necessary. Two, I wanted to keep an aspect of mystery, blurring the materiality of the hard surfaces and planes along with the darker tinted pool water. Lastly, I really wanted to emphasize again the strong contrast between the two different spaces, the interior and the courtyard. The high gloss black interior serves as an uninterrupted canvas for the color, light and shadows that stream in from the courtyard. Overall, I wanted to create a bathhouse congruent with the outdoor-loving culture of Austin as well as having a smaller carbon footprint.