Bathhouse in Como, Italy by Marco Castelletti

Located on the edge of idyllic Lake Segrino near Como, Italy, this bathhouse by Marco Castelletti is a sensitive addition to the surrounding nature reserve. Even before reaching the building via a bike track that rings the lake, it's presence is felt via a metal fence with slats of various sizes in a random arrangement. Through the gaps one sees the green and blue of the grass and water beyond.

The L-shaped pavilion is oriented with its long side to the road. At the elbow is the entrance and ticket office with offices above, making for a tall element within the otherwise low composition. Along the long side is a shaded colonnade leading to a common room and bar where bathers can relax and take in a view of the lake, while the short side contains the changing rooms, a turkish bath, and a nursery.

Two piers extend from the changing room wing, which also features a colonnaded outdoor space. The material palette is extremely simple and limited. Beyond the metal fence, different types of wood are used in different configurations. Wood planks form the walkways, while standard sheets make up the walls of the different rooms. The tall entry and chimney from the bath are clad in a wood whose pattern recalls the metal fence.

The simple and economical design is a great example of how architecture can blend with its natural surroundings, without the costly effort of excavating (to bury the building) or expensive materials. Primarily, it shows how apparent mass and natural materials can work as well - or even better - than glass when an architect attempts to integrate with greenery. Sure, glass offers views but it also provides unnatural reflections that distract from the experience of nature, perhaps pointing to the importance of immersing oneself in it rather than merely looking at it.