Jarmund/Vigsnæs rejuvenates a 1917 public bath in Oslo
Linas Alsenas -- Interior Design, 1/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Oslo's West End Public Bath was "part cruise liner, part Roman bath," says Einar Jarmund of the Norwegian firm Jarmund/Vigsnæs A.S. Architects, which based its renovation on Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund's fluid reconciliation of modernism with the past. Originally designed by Bjercke & Eliassen in 1917, the public bath was closed in 1992, deemed an extraneous expense by Oslo's city council. Eventually, the political tide shifted, and Jarmund/Vigsnæs was hired to update the bath for a planned 1997 reopening, but more budget debates stalled the project again. Finally complete, the facility is an architectural gem, a harmonious blend of modern and archaic forms.
Updating the public bath posed several challenges. In the past, there was only one sauna and shower area, with different days set aside for men and women, so Jarmund/Vigsnæs had to build separate facilities; when the temperature of the pool was raised from a chilly 71 degrees Fahrenheit to 86, the need for air-conditioning greatly increased. To provide more pool supervision, the designers moved the circular reception desk into the wardrobe area above. Thankfully, careful restoration work overall maintained the unique and surprisingly congruent mix of neoclassical, art deco, and modern elements.