The Underground Heterotopia

The Underground Heterotopia

Yixue Zhang

Early public bathrooms were used as places for daily cleaning and sanitation. At the same time, it has also secretly developed into a public place. After investigating and understanding the origin of the name Bath Street, we discovered that this street was named in memory of William Harley, a businessman who built public baths.

However, with the development of the times, the history of this street has gradually been overwhelmed by bustling commerce. This phenomenon aroused my curiosity about this “hidden history”, so I found a concept called “micro history”. The term “micro-history” comes from the American historian George R. Stewart’s “Pickett’s Allegations: The Micro-History of the Last Attack on Gettysburg” published in 1863. The modern historian Levi proposed that the reduction of the research scale of microhistory does not necessarily have to be restricted by the spatial scale.

This also means that multiple aspects of the macro-historical process can be observed through “fragmentation” research at specific time and place. Whether it is a major historical event or a small historical site, I think it is an indispensable part of this city. These “micro-history” have been integrated into today’s cities in different ways. It represents the living conditions of ordinary people in the city, and it is a history with a deeper affinity and enthusiasm.

So I plan to restore the real bathroom scene in Bath Street, provide space users with the most intuitive mapping experience, and make up for the lack of leisure areas on the street. The clue to spatial development is not only that I only focus on William Harry’s time. In order to increase the diversified experience of visitors, I will show the complete bathroom development process and extract the characteristics of bathroom development in each period as space design elements. When visitors develop in chronological order, they will understand the development characteristics of the bathroom and commemorate the history through their own experience and spatial interaction, rather than just putting a memorial board somewhere and recording a piece of history on the street.

Heterotopia is the concept of human geography used by the philosopher Michel Foucault to explain places and spatial forms in a non-dominated situation. These spaces are operating in a different role from the usual, following the laws of the self (or spontaneously). They exist at the connection point between reality and illusion, highlighting the state of existence and the illusion of “new life”.
I created a sinking heterotopia to attract people on the street to enter the bathroom to relax physically and mentally, it pays tribute to the early public bathroom. This is not only a health center for urban functions, but also plays a role in urban social space. The early public baths were not only medical centers, but also social spaces in cities. Here, you can get rid of your inherent social identity, just like a simple “person”, where people can get pleasure and relaxation and awaken people’s perception of history.



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