Student proposal carves baths into Greek island’s volcanic landscape

Suggestion Reclaim the mining sites of the Giali volcanic landscape

Architecture student Dimitrios Mitsimponas proposes a new scenario for the artificial landscape of Giali, an uninhabited volcanic island in Greece. Mining work has severely impacted the island’s natural landscape and created many environmental and social impacts. The idea explores the relationship between manufacturing infrastructure and recreational programs to reclaim mining sites and create new economic policies for local communities. The designer proposes harnessing Giali’s geothermal energy through a underground Architectural program in which energy production and the Bathe Element are the main attractions. According to a cascade system, each space is organized according to its heat and humidity needs, from warmer to cooler.

View of the mine from the hot pool | all images courtesy of Dimitrios Mitsimponas

A sustainable design plan uses the island’s geothermal energy

The diploma thesis project Dimitrios Mitsimponas closely observes the landscape of Giali, which has been drastically altered by anthropogenic factors. Two mining companies operate at four locations on the volcanic island, which administratively belongs to the municipality of Nisyros. Leasing the land to these companies is the primary source of income for the island, which other than passing legislation mandating a tree planting program on its mine-reclaim lending, has not proposed any other plan for the island’s development after the completion of mining operations.

In the southwestern part of the island, the gradual merging of the manufactured with the natural landscape shows man’s imposition of nature. A key concern during the design phase was how different programs could be introduced into Giali in a sustainable way, leading to a new scenario that proposed harnessing its geothermal energy through an architectural program in which energy production and the bathing element take the lead role. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that uses the heat contained in the earth and creates a minimal ecological footprint. The geothermal field of Giali has a high temperature and is suitable for generating electricity through the installation of a binary cycle geothermal power plant, a heat center that generates electricity to meet the needs of Nisyros.

Student proposal carves baths into Greek island's volcanic landscape to repurpose mining sites
the building remains hidden at first sight, but explains its existence through vapor emissions

a porous building is integrated into the volcanic landscape

The waste heat from the planned geothermal station will be used directly in the Giali bathing facilities, just as geothermal sources are used by various cultures for purification and relaxation. Deviating from standard mining site reclamation techniques, the project explores the marriage of the industrial character of the facility with the stimulating aura emanating from the baths. In line with the “genius loci”, the bathing facility emphasizes its unmistakable atmosphere with a porous building integrated into the landscape. Referring to Sigfried Giedion, the student adds a quote from his book “Mechanization takes over” notice that “The bath and its purposes have had different meanings for different ages. The way a civilization incorporates bathing into its life, as well as the type of bathing it prefers, gives a deep insight into the inner nature of time..

Likewise, the design of the baths in the industrial landscape of Giali and its proximity to the geothermal power plant presents a new challenge that arouses the interest of visitors and encourages them to learn about the generation of energy in modern societies, to reflect and to relax Themselves. In addition, water, smells, changes in temperature and light, and the body’s contact with materials and textures evoke different emotions. The building belongs to a typology of constructions that explores the relationship between production infrastructure and leisure programs as a hybrid structure in which all the senses are stimulated.

Student proposal carves baths into Greek island's volcanic landscape to repurpose mining sites
the central interior of the bathrooms creates a spatial continuum

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