A 16th-century Turkish bath, or hammam, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was converted for a week into a contemporary art library that brought international attention to the old monument. The hammam, an architectural monument of great significance to Plovdiv, was built over an ancient Roman bath. It was used as a communal bath open to both men and women until the end of the last century, when a period of abandonment ensued.
Today the structure plays host to the Center for Contemporary Art of Plovdiv and the association Art Today. During the Urban Dreams Contemporary Art Festival from October 20 to November 30, Art Today asked Studio 8 ½ to come up with a solution for utilizing the Center’s archive and the hammam’s main hall. The result was a spiraling wood structure that complemented the circular shape of the hall while directing the view to its spectacular 43-meter-high cupola.
The installation consisted of a sitting area, a bookshelf, and a multimedia point. Desks and chairs were bypassed in favor of a ramp and pillows tuned to the relaxed feel of the building. The freshly cut wood in natural color provided a vibrant contrast to the decaying architecture of the monument. The bare light bulbs used for lighting added to the minimalist mojo that subtly unified the old and new. Fresh, cool and simple, the pop-up library drew numerous visitors over a brief period as well as the attention that the monument needed to support restoration efforts.
All images courtesy of Studio 8 ½.