Nadahama Garden Baden—which follows recent Ando work like the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas and Tokyo shopping complex Omotesando Hills—is a 2,000 sq m facility in the architect's hometown of Kobe, its striking curves exemplifying Ando's beautifully original approach to form. Environmental and civic responsibility were key considerations in the construction. Under-floor pipes, filled with discarded scalding water from a local power plant, are used to heat treatment rooms and spa pools. Meanwhile, special plumbing allows pool and bath water to be drained and used by emergency services when necessary—an important precaution, given the lessons of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck the region in 1995.
Hopefully, though, the lightly carbonated waters of Nadahama will only be used for their original purpose: to gently fizz away shoulder cramps, back pain and fatigue, with any leftover twinges to be kneaded out in the facility's massage rooms. Ando is responsible for the design of more than 30 buildings in Kobe, but in Nadahama Garden Baden he has given the port city his most rejuvenating work yet.