THEY CAME TOGETHER
Elisa Iturbe, Stanley Cho, & Perry Wexelberg
Outside Development is an architectural practice seeking to leverage the political nature of space, thus designing for social equity and dignity. We are a design and research team, considering race, class, labor, and capitalism alongside form, proportion, and the production of urban fabric.
THEY CAME TOGETHER muses about reconstructing the Roman baths of Diocletian on the edge of downtown Baltimore as a means to address racial segregation. In Baltimore segregation is so extreme that it often extends to public transportation: in some areas of the city, the light rail is used predominantly by a white demographic while people of color tend to use the metro. The baths are strategically located between the subway line and a light rail corridor, at the edge of the commercial downtown and a minority neighborhood. In order to encourage integration, the original plans of the Baths, have been altered. In roman antiquity, baths followed a specific procession, beginning with smaller pools of varying temperatures and ending with a large open pool -- a truly public space, where all citizens were free to bathe and cleanse themselves. In order to address segregation, the Baltimore baths mirror the original plan of the Baths of Diocletian so that there are two entry points - one at the metro station, the other by the light rail stop. Each demographic reenacts the roman procession through small pools and saunas, a procession which ultimately orchestrates their arrival to a central pool - a fully integrated and fully public space. This new sequence carves out a space of integration and interchange that re-examines the role of public pools in Baltimore. Historically public pools have amplified the racial issues of the day, demonstrated by the violent reaction to attempts at integrating public pools during the civil rights era. This project leverages public amenities as a bridge between social groups otherwise kept apart, proposing architecture as a public solution to social inequality.