You’re sipping a mojito on the beach when you spot the girls. You know, the ones sunbathing by the dunes. So you knock back that cocktail, swagger over and drop down next to them on the sand.
Except it’s not sand. It’s slag, and as for those dunes? They’re made of industrial gravel. Bienvenidos to The Barking Bathhouse, a temporary spa resort from designers Something & Son, opening later this summer.
“It’s a cross between a North West factory and a Caribbean beach,” says Andrew Merritt, the practice’s co-founder. “It’s a beach, but also a gravel bay.”
The bathhouse is part of Create 2012, a charitable project to set up art installations in London for this summer’s Olympics. Something & Son’s task was simple — build a tropical spa. In Barking.
Alongside the slag-heap beach, the bathhouse packs in saunas, mud baths and cold rooms. “The actual experience is quite feminine,” says Merritt. “But hopefully we’ll still get the hard men in. I mean, it feels like you’re in an old factory. It looks hard.”
The tiki bar at the complex’s heart should help. “It’s going to serve alcoholic drinks, but mainly just healthy ones with a high vitamin input,” says Merritt. “Oh, and beer. Everybody loves beer.”
The Barking Bathhouse opens on 13 July, London IG11 createlondon.org