The Wet room
“Wet Rooms” exist as vernacular spaces in Indian homes found in both communal and family dwellings. Tucked away near the entrances, these semi-private, semi-outdoor spaces have a small but critical task: they allow water to enter and leave the house without eroding it. They achieve this through their architecture – that of moat, drain and enclosure, of polished surfaces and open roofs. Here, washing, drying and cooking form the program of this micro-typology. The tasks done here are perhaps considered menial – boring even – yet essential to the movements of a home. Without any ceremony, they quietly make up the fabric of daily life.
Do these spaces exist in cities? The laundry room, buanderie or utility room contains a bevvy of appliances scattered around the home; a washing machine tucked under a kitchen counter, a dryer shoved in an arbitrary nook. With them, a property is seen as accommodating, “contains white goods” yet without them the inhabitant is forced to seek outside facilities, fundamentally changing their everyday. However, the architectural spaces around them are inert. Water passes and leaves, reduced to a background noise.
Comparing the wet rooms with our modern-day laundry spaces we notice an architectural shift. The wet rooms do what their westernized counterparts do not: they embrace wetness rather than operate in ignorance of it. Through their architecture they foster an intimate engagement with landscape.
Can we re-engage with these spaces again? Spaces that drip, flood, evaporate, osmote, perspire – places caught in constant wetness? The land-water binary is a man-made one, often ignored in the western architectures of everyday. As a result, we often look at spaces in a house as “wet” or “dry” rather than through a gradient of wetness, which exists everywhere. The brief questions whether the wet room can re-engage with the architecture of contemporaneity again. You may argue in your entry that perhaps the wet room is a typology that is defunct, made redundant through appliances of modernity. Yet perhaps this is a question of east-west perspective and privilege rather than past vs. present. The 4x4x4 can challenge the notion of such a space, re-engage with it or discuss it through is architectural and tectonic qualities.
Brief Written by Sabrina Syed