Posts about travel

In studio: Slovakian spa workshop

November 17th, 2008

So you might remember that back in August I travelled to Bratislava, Slovakia to do site visits for a research workshop I am participating in here at MIT.  If you didn’t see the posts and pictures from the trip, you can check them out here:

Eight of us have been working under the direction of Julian Beinart and John de Monchaux for a couple months now and have made it through a couple pin-ups and one client meeting. Basically, our task is to create a masterplan for a 850 acre natural mineral spa resort to be located a couple hours outside of Bratislava, adjacent to a small village.  We have split up into four teams of two and I have had the pleasure of working with a m.arch named Zameer Basrai.  We are still in the course of figuring out all of the features of our plan, but I thought I would go ahead and share some of our work.

please note: all of these are working renderings – final presentation is still a month away.  Also, these are currently only ideas, not actual development plans, and represents only a small portion of the many ideas being considered.



Our concept is to create a ceremonial source of the ancient mineral water – coming from an underground lake said to be 22 million years old – within a hill that is central to the site.  Additionally, we plan to create a man-made lake that will bring value to other portions of the site, providing attractive development locations for a mixture of hotels, resort housing, commercial nodes, and an indoor water park.  (I got the idea for a indoor water park after visiting the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine with my family – so thank you to my nieces and nephews for their help on that!)  Our plan also attempts to integrate with the existing fabric of the Bardonovo village and utilize the towncenter and other assets to the benefit of both our development and the community.  Finally, it should be noted that there are a number of program requirements placed on us by the underlying financial realities of the project, so the end result is influenced by our personal ideas and the development requirements and constraints.

Or, allow Zameer to put it more poetically:

Some say it is sacred and some say it is forbidden and only few can dispute its magical presence, but it had remained untouched for too long, unclaimed for too long. In a celebration of this hidden treasure we attempt to unfold the depths of water that have remained below our cities forever.

The cut and the lake


The project is an exploration of built-scapes responding to the physical and metaphysical presence of the [water source]. The cut signifies man’s inward journey, his ceremonial descent into the earth to retrieve this irreplaceable resource. The lake in turn signifies man’s worldly pleasures, his desire to live and work in proximity to water. Both experiences contribute to the identity of the project forming two polar opposites in organization and design.


credit: zameer basrai


source: unknown


credit: zameer basrai


credit: blair humphreys

credit: blair humphreys

credit: blair humphreys


credit: zameer basrai


credit: blair humphreys

Bratislava Pictures II

August 28th, 2008

The weather has improved since the first day and allowed me to get some better pictures. Hope you enjoy!

Bratislava Pictures

August 27th, 2008

Really enjoying my time here in Bratislava, Slovakia. I will talk more about the project we are working on in the future, and probably talk more about Bratislava, but for now I thought you might enjoy a some pictures from my first day in this beautiful European city!

By the way, sorry for the quality of some of the images. The sky was so gray this first day, that the pictures bleed into the page.

Most of our team arrived on Saturday, August 23 and had the opportunity to explore the old city. The building in the background is the beautiful Old City Hall.

The rain didn’t necessarily ruin the site seeing, but it did seem to put a damper on the musical festival that was going in Hlavné námestie (Slovak for the Main Square).

St. Martin’s Cathedral is the largest chapel in Bratislava and was formerly used as the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary.

A nice view of the skinny pedestrian streets that make up the Old City district of Bratislava.

The town has public art spread throughout the city including this sewer worker that was quite popular.

Finally, here are a number of students on the team being dazzled by the projected coke sign on the Old City’s stone street.

I will make sure to post a new image(s) each day until I get back (I now have a much faster internet connection than I have been experiencing, which was making it difficult to upload the photos). Thank you for continuing to check in!