after winning a competition to redesign ancient thermal baths in the french town of aix-les-bains, vincent callebaut unveils his proposal entitled ‘ecume des ondes’ (foam of waves). located within an impressive landscape and nestled between mountains and a lake, the project intends to enhance the local area while also forming a building that is contextually relevant. with respect to the history of the site – as it is home to roman bath ruins – one of the main concepts is to create a center of well-being, housing various functions to facilitate relaxation and social interaction.
bird’s eye view towards the lake of bourget
all images courtesy of vincent callebaut
callebaut‘s proposal aims to bring the thermal bath site into the 21st century by incorporating aspects of sustainability and technological and social advances into the new intervention. to attain these design aspirations, the ‘foam of waves’ building integrates bioclimatism and renewable energies to achieve an environmentally neutral carbon footprint. urban agriculture is also included in the scheme with the waveform green terraces, rooftops, and public plazas providing space to grow fruit and vegetables, reconnecting people living in the city with more natural surroundings.
view from the chevalley baths
the program of the complex is split over two volumes, with each one housing various functions which aim to revitalize the city by attracting local visitors, tourists and residents alike. in addition to the spa center, the scheme includes a retail galleria, a rooftop restaurant with an aquaponic urban farm, and a viewing centre for the site’s roman ruins, as well as a number of residential sky villas and co-working areas. in addition to catering for different functions, the public spaces at the foot of the structure also create a place for people to meet and gather.
view from plaza maurice mollard
the 185 ‘sky villa’ apartments cover a total area of 13 500 m², with 25% of which intended for social housing. each residence opens out to a green terrace, or ‘sky garden’, that can be cultivated by inhabitants. the wave-like shape of these external patios give the proposal its name – foam of waves – as the façades recall the waves generated by the nearby lake of bourget. the ‘green’ aspect of the architecture also continues as you ascend, with the top floors housing a panoramic rooftop restaurant and urban educational farm on the south building, dedicated to permaculture and aquaponics.
view from the floral park
the new ‘georges 1’ plaza is envisioned between the two volumes to bring the city together in one large, gathering place. the plaza also functions to frame the remains of the ancient roman baths, with a large glazed dome built over the old baths, putting them at the heart of the proposal and allowing them to be easily viewed by visitors. bodies of water are also employed in this space, forming a direct connection with the history of the city. in essence, the scheme proposed by vincent callebaut aims to create a new hub for aix-les-bains, creating jobs for local residents and numerous facilities for well-being, while still relating to the history of the site.
view along the food garden balconies
view inside the panoramic restaurant on the rooftop
view of the new plaza
bird’s eye view towards mont revard
project name: ‘ecume des ondes’ (foam of waves)
project location: aix-les-bains, france
architect: vincent callebaut
edited by: lynne myers | designboom
architecture in france (378 articles)
vincent callebaut architectures (24 articles)
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