In France, the National thermal baths of Aix-les-Bains, formerly a place of leisure for the European elite during the Belle Epoque, have been out of use since 2008. Following a call for tenders, a vast project of renovation of these spaces, called The Foam of Waves, was entrusted to the Franco-Belgian architectural firm Vincent Callebaut.
The metamorphosis project of the National thermal baths of Aix-les-Bains, in France, is the story of a crush between the architect and the majestic landscape, nestled between lake and mountains. Faced with this emblematic site, the Franco-Belgian team from the Vincent Callebaut Architectures studio is responding with an ambitious project, The Foam of Waves, aimed at showcasing the cultural and natural heritage, as well as the reconquest of the city center. To achieve this challenge, the studio respectfully sorts the historic volumes of the building and the additions accumulated during the 20th century, in order to reveal their intrinsic qualities, then to magnify them with contemporary architecture. In this way, the Thermal baths become a place of life which decompartmentalizes uses by bringing together innovative accommodation spaces, a restaurant opening onto a panoramic terrace, a shopping mall focused on well-being and organic products, as well as coworking. The architectural approach is to poetically conceive a structure while movement, whose partitions recall the waves generated by the waves of Lake Bourget. The staggered waves of the facades are designed to be able to plant large trees that grow on two floors. A double planter system ensures vegetation of colors and fragrances varying through the seasons. Thus, this place perpetuates its historic vocation as a place of destination where it is good to entertain, relax, cultivate, eat and innovate. Residents and visitors alike will be able to adopt new lifestyles that respect the environment, health and urban well-being, thanks to this resilient building, an ode to biodiversity and renewable energies.