As a rule, spa treatments don't usually take place in barns. Then again, as a rule, farms aren’t usually in shops. In commissioning Something & Son (the brains behind Dalston’s hugely successful Farm:shop, complete with indoor allotments and a rooftop chicken coop) to design the new Barking Bathhouse in East London, art initiative Create probably wasn’t expecting luxury treatment rooms and champagne receptions.
Designed as a temporary retreat (from 13 July to 9 September) for the Olympics’ crowd and locals alike, the Barking Bathhouse will offer all the traditional relaxation services you might want, including saunas, massages and manicures. What sets it apart, however, is its rather industrial milieu.
The bathhouse will take the form of a series of prefabricated pods, inspired by the black-stained timber farm buildings of Essex and the wooden beach huts of Kent. The interior, meanwhile, echoes the no frills working men’s bathhouses of the 20th century, eschewing conventional spa opulence in favour of a laid-back haven in which people can meet and socialise, as well as enjoy some pampering.
Visitors to the Bathhouse - part bar, part spa - can enjoy cocktails or smoothies under a cucumber canopy before retreating to the relaxation space or the 'shingle dunes' to catch a few rays. The spa features natural products that are made from produce from local allotments. The sauna is found in the boiler room and the cold room uses a pioneering ‘dry ice’ chiller with northern lights.
With wellbeing at the heart of the bathhouse, a programme of feel-good events will run the duration, from laughter yoga and meditation classes to a workshop offering Photoshop makeovers, showing how media images of beauty are unattainable without the deft use of a mouse.
Catch this treat while you can - come September the pre-fab pod-based structure will be dissembled and relocated in playgrounds, youth centres and even the odd allotment.