The winning design for a project to rejuvenate the ancient thermal baths of Aix les Bains in France features layers of green terraces that will hold a centre of wellbeing – a multipurpose space that includes public plazas, community gardens and facilities for relaxation and social engagement.
Vincent Callebaut’s winning proposal titled Ecude des Ondes, Foam of Waves, was designed to enhance the surrounding area and provide a space that is contextually relevant and historically respectful. Nestled between the mountains and lake, the project will provide a centre of wellbeing with various facilities to promote relaxation and community interaction.
The Roman bath site will be reintroduced to the 21st century through the incorporation of sustainable, technological and social advancement. The building will integrate bioclimatism and renewable energy to create a precinct that has an environmentally neutral carbon footprint. urban agriculture will also be incorporated into the building with waveform green terraces, rooftops and public plazas that provide the space to grow fruits and vegetables, encouraging people to reconnect to nature.
The complex is split across two buildings, each hosting various functions that aim to attract the local community and tourists, thereby revitalising the city. The baths will act as the centre with the rest of the complex featuring a retail galleria, a rooftop restaurant with an aquaponic farm and a viewing site for the area’s Roman ruins. Residential ‘sky villas’ and working spaces will also be incorporated. The public spaces at the base of the structure will cater to different functions and will provide a community gathering space.
The residential functions of the building will feature 185 sky villas, a quarter of which will be dedicated to social housing. Each villa will open out to a ‘sky garden’ that can be cultivated by resident’s, and feature the wave-like shape that gives the scheme its name, Foam of Waves. The waving façade alludes to the waves of the nearby Lake of Bourquet.
The top floors of the complex hold a panoramic rooftop restaurant and an educational permaculture and aquaponics farm on the south building.
The Georges 1 plaza will be placed between the two complexes in order to provide a large gathering place for the city. the plaza will frame the remains of the Roman baths with a large glass dome over the top, allowing them to be viewed by visitors and making them the centre of the scheme. Water forms, such as ponds and fountains, will feature in the space, connecting the plaza to the baths and the area’s origins.
Foams of Waves aims to create a new social hub for the city, creating local jobs and providing multipurpose facilities to encourage wellbeing and community engagement, without detracting from the history of the site.
Images courtesy of Vincent Callebaut