The historic Rácz Thermal Bath in Budapest was given a modern face lift that accentuates the natural bubble-shape of the baths within. Design studio Budapesti Műhely removed the original vaulted walls, revealing the orb shapes within the warm water hall. The now white bubbled-backs create a space-age modernity to the romantic halls of one of Budapest’s oldest bath houses.
Originally built in the 1500s, the thermal baths were expanded to their current size in the 1800s, and have been continually used by locals since opening. The ornate romantic halls and tiled rooms were created in 1865 by architect Miklós Ybl, including the recently updated all and shower corridor. Parts of the corridor walls were destroyed during World War II, exposing some of the bubble shaped backs of interior rooms.
For the renovation, the architects further accentuated these bubble shapes, removing walls and replacing them with clear glass to maximize views within the building. Smooth white plaster was put over the bubble backs, creating an almost lunar landscape within the bathhouse.
Artificial light, heating or ventilation aren’t used in Turkish baths, so the renovation reflected this. Rounded skylights were added throughout to continue the orb shape theme, as well as infuse natural lighting into the bathhouse while preserving privacy. The skylights were also installed on different floors, connecting each space with light and maximizing its effect.
Budapesti Műhely’s renovation kept the tradition of the 1865 bathhouse but gave it a modern twist by playing up its existing features.