Zürich is commonly thought to be the work of the Romans, who laid the town’s first foundations sometime around 800AD. In fact, Zürich was first settled by the Celts, who came south from Gaul to develop a trade network throughout most of modern-day continental Europe. Some historians even go so far as to say that the city’s name is derived from the Celtic word for water, dur, referential to lake and the hot springs that lie below the urban fabric.
These mineral springs bubble up in different spots around the city: one such source lies directly on a slope above the city, directly beneath the 150-year-old Hürlimann Brewery. Hürlimann brewed its last beer in 1997, and a group of investors bought the structure, hoping turn it into a thermal bath with bells-and whistles like water slides and children’s play areas.
Yet the completed Thermal Baths offer little by way of wave pools and slides: Ushitamborriello Innenarchitektur & Szenenbild Althammer Hochuli Architekten AG have turned the Brewery into a monastic series of spaces, where the sound of rushing water amplifies on the exposed brick Hürlimann’s massive stone vaults. Most of the baths themselves are grouped deep below ground level, near the source of the spring – cell phone users aren’t discouraged, but disallowed. It’s hard not to think of the city’s historical gravity in the dark, hushed spaces.
The Baths’ singular moment of exuberance? The Brewery rooftop, where Szenenbild designed a steaming crown of infinity pools, laced with wooden slats.