book cover

Christie Pearson is an artist, architect, writer, and urban interventionist based in Toronto.


The Architecture of Bathing

Body, Landscape, Art


October 2020

“A celebration of communal bathing—swimming pools, saunas, beaches, ritual baths, sweat lodges, and more—viewed through the lens of architecture and landscape.”

MIT press

“This engaging volume has no peer. I know of no other work of its scope or mission. If your architectural interest is communal bathing, this is your book.”


Leonard Koren

Author of Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing and Undesigning the Bath


This is the first book to examine traditional and contemporary communal bathing cultures globally from the perspective of art, architecture and landscape. It is the culmination of years of studying, traveling, sketching, photographing, listening and sweating in hundreds of public bathing places around the world.


I pair fifteen formal typologies with ways of experiencing architecture to frame the examination of the complex spatial experiences, social relationships, and cultural mythologies that lie beneath the surface of my subject. The many illustrations articulate relationships that baths can support, embed architecture into relational and material networks, and highlight how we meet the world both literally and symbolically. Bathing practices articulate social attitudes towards race, class, gender, and sexuality, at times amplifying tensions between public and private, sacred and profane, ritual and habitual, nature and culture. Architectures of public bathing emerge as dynamic civic spaces, where outdated collective agreements fade and new ideas of being together are continually being tested.


“Practically everywhere that bodies of water are accessible for public soaking, the architect and writer Christie Pearson has tried them out while taking glorious notes. Her book … careens around in time and place and ponders ‘the bath’s utopian and dystopian aspects.’ ”

Eve M. Kahn, from the New York Times

“Christie Pearson’s The Architecture of Bathing is an enthusiastic, engaged, and adventurous journey through the hydraulic world. With gusto and refined physical knowledge she guides the reader through the architecture of the senses, a field neglected for ages and badly needed today.”

Thomas A. P. Van Leeuwen, author of The Springboard in the Pond

“This unique and impressive publication explores a dizzying array of bathing architectures, traversing buildings, landscapes, people, practices, theories and art. At once detailed, beguiling and thought-provoking, Pearson’s polyamorous engagement with bathing lets the reader both learn and take delight.”

Iain Borden, Vice-Dean Education and Professor of Architecture & Urban Culture, The Bartlett, University College London

“Why does it seem strange to consider bathing architecturally? Pearson argues this is because the structures supporting bodily maintenance have been privatized and hidden away, thus circumscribing what we imagine a bathing space to be. I was misguided to think that bathing was simply cleaning oneself in a tub.”

Audio & Video
ABC National Radio interview Blueprint for Living
Book Launch University of Waterloo School of Architecture
Bathing Place as Public Space Roundtable with Mikkel Aaland, Katie Bracher, Pia Lindman, Aziza Chaouni, Yuma Shinohara, Marcos Zotes
Bathing Place as Public Space Roundtable with Astrida Neimanis, Ekin Bacioglu, Josee-Ann Cloutier, Stephanie Crohin-Kishigami, Isabel Toland