You know what’ll really liven up our future megacities? Little inflatable horticultural spas scattered everywhere, of course. Wait, what!?

For the last few days, there’s been a very unusual bubble of a structure living by London’s River Thames. It looks a bit like a prototype for a future space habitat, but Loop.pH’s “Horticultural Spa and Apothecary Experience,” installed as part of the London Architecture Festival, is actually more spiritually akin to a British bathhouse. Public bathhouses are a tradition that traces back to the very earliest cities, and now, they’re getting a decidedly modern upgrade.


This structure, an inflatable PVC membrane supported with two tons of steel scaffolding, was inspired by contemporary thinking on how future cities might deal with water shortages while producing more of their own food. The space replaces full immersion pools with an herb-infused aromatic mist, which serves the dual purpose of exfoliating patrons and nourishing the plants that are being grown aeroponically within the structure’s birch scaffolding. Aeroponic technologies, first studied by NASA as a possible strategy for growing plants in space with much less water and no soil, are now being embraced by a small group of urban planners, horticulturalists and engineers interested in the problem of how we can pack more food production into our cities as efficiently as possible.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m kinda giggling at this whole idea. But hey, with limited water resources and growing populations, any idea that could help us grow more green things while cutting down on unnecessary wastefulness (and I’d have to say traditional public bathhouses probably fall into that category) ought to be given consideration.

Let’s have a a peek inside:


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All images reproduced with permission from Loop.pH