“Hot House” is a video about a utopian space that draws inspiration from public works projects such as Simon Baruch’s bathhouses, park systems in Chicago, and municipal conservatories which became popular in the early 1900s.
If materialized it would be of simple, utilitarian design and run on renewable energy and rainwater collection. The structure would house a central conservatory outlined by hot and dry saunas for relaxation, socializing, and bathing. Ideally it would be located near public transit or in a park. “Hot House” explores strategies for radical community building addressing social issues as well as environmental ones. The increasing privatization of spaces and resources in the western world has deleterious effects on nature and our communities; looking into historical ways that humans shared water can provide answers for sustainable living.
Luxury saunas and wellness spaces are becoming increasingly popular in Western societies. Access to many of these spaces hinges on socio-economic status. The spirit of “Hot House” is in opposition to these spaces because it looks to public works which were free or inexpensive, humble in design, and encouraged community. While conservatories have traditionally been places that housed exotic plants this component could integrate local flora. Part of the conception of “Hot House” is to provide access to green spaces which improve human health. Paths running through the conservatory with benches and chairs would allow people to interact with each other and the plants. One component of it’s layout is to also have a space in or near the building where people can garden or forage. While “Hot House” is specific to Chicago the basic structure and idea could be used anywhere and designed with the communities’ needs and input in mind.
“Hot House” invites us to think about alternative spaces for community and other ways in which we might bath outside of private tubs and showers. It features footage of the facades of the four remaining public bath houses of Chicago - all of which have been converted into private residences - alongside imagery from the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago neighborhoods, public infrastructure around Chicago, and plants found in Illinois.
*This is currently a work in process with plans for screening in 2019.