top of page

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Post by: Camila da Paz | Source: Dezeen

marble bathroom

This bathhouse for conservative Jewish women in Mexico City features a stark composition of grainy white marble by local architecture firm Arqhe Studio.

Called Mikveh Oh, the building is a religious bath in Mexico City's Bosques de las Lomas neighbourhood. It is used by Orthodox Jews to clean themselves to obtain purity in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Local firm Arqhe Studio created the project with a stark design based on a minimal rectangular volume that conceals its very private happenings.

"In the Jewish faith the mikveh is a purifying bath," said architects Aby and Ramón Helfon, founders of Arqhe. "This is achieved through the immersion in 'pure' water, in this case, rainwater."

Marble Bathroom

The building's internal bath is filled with rainwater, as common in mikvehs, which is collected on a concrete slab on its flat roof and stored in two cisterns. No one can touch the water before it is used, and it can only come in contact with certain materials.

"The tub’s water is rainwater, which must be collected naturally and can't be in contact with man or any material that isn't stone," the studio said.

The bathwater is not filtered but chlorine tablets can be used. All the pathways for the water are made of concrete as well, in observance with its restrictions. For the bath to fill, water fills one cistern that then goes to the tub using a "communicating vessels system".

Marble Bathroom

This water fills a pool in the interior of the building, which is clad entirely in white marble with black grainy lines. The studio said it chose the stone as it "reflects the idea of cleanliness".

Bright blue water from the bath is visible under a floating marble wall, which reveals women's' calves, ankles and feet.

"The woman must follow the perimeter of this wall on the spiral path to the centre of the project, the mikveh, which is lit with natural lighting from a translucid veil covered dome that makes the light soft and diffuse," the studio said.

In accordance with the Torah, a mikveh is required for Jewish women after menstruation and childbirth, and before they are married.

Marble Wall

Once bathed and dressed, the women go to an exit that bypasses a lobby and enters a private courtyard.

"We decided to start from a spiral concept in a way that the distribution and shape of the project leads the user to the centre of the project, in a ritual to achieve spiritual cleanness and return to the purest state of man, and finally finish at the core, the mikveh or tub," the studio said.

In the lobby are a white marble front desk, grey built-in sofas, chairs, wood walls and other furnishings. The area is a waiting room and the only public space inside.

A bronze lattice wall behind the couches is designed to help "radiate warm light" inside the cool, cavern-like setting, as white marble is featured elsewhere on the floors and walls.

A corridor from here accesses three women's bathrooms, which act as preparation areas before entering the bath. Oak cladding is used for warmth. Each has a door that leads to the "wet corridor", or the mikveh, and a second door to accesses a "dry corridor", or hallway that guides the user along a continuous grey terrazzo wall.

Outside, Mikveh Oh is clad in prefabricated concrete panels, sectioned with a series of slots to maintain the privacy of users entering and leaving.

"The projects volume is rigid and sober, closed," Arqhe Studio said. "The interior becomes a space that links concepts like warmth and pureness."

The volume spans 810 square metres, and surrounding the structure are plantings and a fence for privacy that encloses the brick courtyard.

Mikveh Oh is in the western part of Mexico City, in a historic Jewish neighbourhood since the mid-twentieth century. The city's central, more upscale neighbourhood Polanco is also a Jewish neighbourhood and features many high-end shops, condominiums and the famed Pujol restaurant.

Other mikvehs are Mikve Rajel by Pascal Arquitectos, also in Mexico City, while Kister Scheithauer Gross' Ulm synagogue in Germany also features the religious bath.

Photography is by Yoshihiro Koitani

45 views0 comments

Post by Camila da Paz

Rising above the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a stunning sight to behold. Audacious in scale and magnificent in artistry, the massive sculpture is a memorial to four American presidents.

The idea of a large mountain carving is credited to South Dakota State Historian Doane Robinson, who was looking for ways to attract tourists to the state. Recruiting renowned sculptor Gutzon Borglum to the project, Doane and other prominent South Dakota leaders secured Congressional support in 1925 and began to raise funds, including $250,000 from the federal government. Carving began in 1927, removing tons of granite and slowly shaping the mountain. Originally meant to portray the presidents to the waist, only the heads were finished. Borglum’s death in 1941, along with the impending American involvement in World War II, led to the end of the work on the mountain, and on October, 1941, Mount Rushmore National Memorial was declared a completed project.

Carving Mount Rushmore was a project of colossal proportion, ambition and achievement. It involved the efforts of nearly 400 men and women. The work was exciting, but dangerous. Ninety percent of the mountain was carved using dynamite. Only the last 3-6 inches of rock were removed by drillers using jackhammers. Hand tools smoothed the stone and added small details, like wrinkles and moles.

The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitterly cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500-foot face of the mountain in a "bosun chair." Despite the dangers, no one was killed during the project.

Over the decades, Mount Rushmore has grown in fame as a symbol of America: a symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds. That's one of the reasons it is used widely used during President's Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, and in 2021 we celebrate President's Day today.

Happy Presidents Day!

26 views0 comments

Originally called La Grande Arche de la Fraternité, La Grande Arche de la Défense, or simply La Grande Arche, is a monument and building situated just outside of Paris, in the business district of la Défense. It completes the Historical Axis, extending from the Louvre along the Champs-Elysees to the Arche de Triomphe, and guides Paris to the future.

The competition for a “modernized Arche de Triomphe” was won by the Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen, whose concept was more or less a hollowed, symmetrical cube, designed to be modern version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories.

The Grande Arche de la Défense was completed in 1989 to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, however, in the years since, there has been little to celebrate: Only a few years after it was built, the structure of its façade began to deteriorate, with extensive cracking and spalling. The building's concrete frame covered with 300,000 tons of glass and white Italian Carrara marble was soon succumbing to the effects of climate and acid rain.

A restoration team was put in place and it immediately began scouring the world to find a stone that would withstand extreme temperature swings, while fully respecting the original sleek and gleaming white design.

The team found a natural choice in the flawless character, even grain and purity of color of Bethel White granite, quarried in Vermont. The hard wearing granite became the basis of a €192 million renovation to replace the Carrara marble exterior with granite panels in 2016.

The surface treatment the granite receives ensures the same shade and shine as the original marble, resulting in a clean and white surface, with no worries of durability.

The Grand Arche opened again to the public in 2017 after seven years of renovation works. It features panoramic views of Paris and includes a restaurant and an exhibition area dedicated to photojournalism.

The restoration won the Grand Pinnacle Award. This recognition is given to the best project across all categories and is a top prize among the highly coveted awards, which are bestowed by the Natural Stone Institute. The Grand Pinnacle is awarded to “projects whose beauty, creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship exemplifies professional mastery in the use of natural stone for commercial and residential applications.” An independent panel of judges from both industry and design professions evaluated the entries based on seven project categories.

The thirty-five story Grande Arche functions mainly as an office space, and contains an exhibition hall at its uppermost level. Below the Arche sits a shopping mall and cinema.

75 views0 comments
Doral Stones Logo
bottom of page