In celebration of SCI-Arc's 40th anniversary we are pleased to present some work from the archives.

Venice Beach Bathing Pavilion: An Investigation 'In' the Bath, 1995

This thesis attempts to re configure the socially normative interpretation of the body.

Bathing - as an act and architecture - is where the body has been most clearly defined by social forces.  Erecting and policing boundaries of many sorts, such as those between male and female, between mind and body, and between pleasure and hygiene, has been fundamental to the social organization of the body.  By shifting, transgressing, and inhabiting some of these boundaries, this project seeks to use the activity and architecture of bathing to redefine the possibilities of embodiment.

Particular attention has been given to defining questions of site and cultivation and "culturalization" of a natural condition.  Sustainability and autonomy are concerns engineered towards the regeneration and preservation of the natural condition.  The site is along the coast with the architecture situated in the tidal margin.  This interstitial space is typically unoccupied - merely the edge between the built and "natural" environments.  By occupying the shoreline, however, the architecture constructs a "site-work" for the manipulation of water.  The normal opposition of the mechanical and natural has been transgressed by developing an architecture that embodies and celebrates the "environments" of the site.

The bath works proposed are a series of bathing episodes or "themed" cleansing environments that expose the body to a variety of situations.  Unifying these episodes is a strategic interest in the relationship between seeing and being seen, scopophilia, voyeurism, and other modalities of the visual.  By harnessing these "scopic" tendencies, just as in a carnival, the architecture licenses a delirium that is meant to surprise and amuse.  Recovering pleasure from limitations of the contained consumable product, the project attempts to transcend oppressive forms of fantasy.  Episodes of the absurd, the sensual, and the social offer opportunities to break from normal expectations of pleasure, and attempt to conceive a new language of desire open to multiple interpretation.

Sylvia Lavin, Advisor