Thermae Bath Spa
Thermae Bath Spa is a combination of the historic spa and a contemporary building in the city of Bath, England, and re-opened in 2006. Bath and North East Somerset council own the buildings, and, as decreed in a Royal Charter of 1590, are the guardians of the spring waters, which are the only naturally hot, mineral-rich waters in the UK. The Spa is operated by Thermae Development Company.
The main spa building, the New Royal Bath, was designed by Grimshaw Architects and is constructed in Bath stone, enclosed by a glass envelope. It has two natural thermal baths, an open-air rooftop pool and an indoor pool, a large steam room with four circular glass pods and 20 spa treatment rooms, including the 18th century Hot Bath. The stand alone Cross Bath is a grade 1 listed Georgian building containing one open-air thermal bath.
One of the city's main attractions has long been its famous hot spa water, fed by the area's hot springs. The Bath springs are the warmest geothermal springs found in the UK. These natural geothermal mineral springs fed into the Roman Baths complex, which was responsible for the prominence of Bath in the Roman period, as well as for the later development of Bath as the country's leading eighteenth and early nineteenth century health resort. In the middle of the 20th century, the city's swimming pool sourced its water directly from the King's Spring through one of three pipelines beneath the River Avon. However, the old municipal hot pools were closed in 1978 after the discovery of an infectious organism in one stratum of the aquifer. After that date, bathing was prohibited.
With the approach of the Millennium, money from the National Lottery-funded Millennium Commission was made available towards a major project to reopen a safe commercial spa once more, supplemented by funds from subscribers and from the local authority.
Originally planned to open in 2002, and despite a formal opening with the aid of the "Three Tenors" in 2003, the project ran seriously behind schedule and over budget as a result of a variety of legal disputes with contractors: the project's budgeted costs spiralled from an estimated £13 million in September 1996 to a final cost of £45 million.
Thermae Bath Spa eventually opened to the public on 7 August 2006, ending a 28-year period during which the waters remained unavailable for bathing.
The spa is largely sited in a new 'Glass Cube' building by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, near the site of the ancient Royal Bath, which has been interlinked with historic Georgian spa buildings such as the nearby Hot and Cross Baths. The building is in a strongly contemporary style in contrast to its Georgian surroundings. The complex houses both traditional and modern spa facilities.
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