Situated within a 450-acre nature reserve in the mountains west of Mexico City, this 700-square-foot bathhouse accompanies a detached residence and artist studio that together comprise an off-the-grid, water-autonomous retreat. Emerging quietly from the densely forested site, the bathhouse and its integrated rainwater harvesting system speak to the retreat’s commitment to designing regeneratively with water in a place where it has become an increasingly scarce resource. Located in the town of Temascaltepec, the name of which is drawn from the pre-Hispanic “temazcal” referring to bathhouses and sweat lodges, the bathhouse connects to an on-site water treatment and storage system supplying 100% of the retreat’s water year-round.
The bathhouse’s material palette of stained vertical tongue-and-groove pine siding and local recinto volcanic stone floors help it recede into the landscape. Inside, the structure directs views back out to the landscape and sky above, offering apertures for a multi-sensory experience of the site that changes dramatically depending on weather. The circular structure supports four bathing activities: hot bath, sauna, steam shower, and washroom, all encircling a central cold plunge pool open to the sky. A functional monument to this life-giving resource, the bathhouse offers a poetic dialogue with the experiential qualities of water.