The return of the bathtub: traditional bathtub types in a contemporary bathroom design

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The return of the bathtub: traditional bathtub types in a contemporary bathroom design

Although they are an integral and necessary part of residential architecture, the wide variety of design opportunities for bathrooms have often gone overlooked in favor of practicality. Historically programmed for privacy, the contemporary bathroom has been redesigned for a greater sense of openness and comfort – finding a delicate balance between privacy and exposure is facilitated by designer objects such as the bathtub.

As the lifestyles of many changed at an increasingly rapid rate and living spaces became smaller and more practical, the shower – utilitarian and spatially savvy – became the most popular choice in room design. bathroom. With less demand, the tub began to fall into disuse and remained an added luxury for those with more money and space.

In today’s climate, with an increased desire for modularity and an increased interest in the culture of wellness, the bathtub has made a comeback in contemporary bathroom interiors. Offering more privacy and comfort than shower stalls, the bathtub is just one part of an assembly that gives an open and meditative quality to the bathroom.

Below are examples of 5 different types of bathtubs and their possible applications in contemporary bathroom spaces:

Alcove bathtubs

These classic tubs are ubiquitous for a reason, as their space-saving design makes them suitable for a wide variety of applications. “Alcove” refers to the tub installed in a recess in the bathroom, which means these tubs are typically installed with three joining walls or in a pocket alcove. Some more contemporary models only have two walls or a large window to eliminate the confined character of this installation method. Alcove tubs are set in three walls, so only one side needs to be finished.

Container House / McLeod Bovell Modern Homes.  Image © Ema Peter
Container House / McLeod Bovell Modern Homes. Image © Ema Peter

Corner baths

These tubs, just like alcove tubs, are popular for their ability to fit into otherwise unnecessary corners and free up essential space. In a contemporary design, corner baths are an easy way to make full use of bathroom corners and create a feeling of openness that allows the bathroom to flow seamlessly. These types of tubs are also quite suitable for accommodating children and the elderly.

Dancing trees, songbirds / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP.  Image courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
Dancing trees, songbirds / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP. Image courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Freestanding bathtubs

Freestanding bathtubs are the most sought after in contemporary bathroom interiors and are ideal for a large bathroom layout where they can serve as a stylish design focal point. More traditional models rely on claw feet while contemporary styles rely on a block base or have an elegant line without a base.

Forest View House / Shinichi Ogawa & Associates.  Image © Shinichi Ogawa & Associates
Forest View House / Shinichi Ogawa & Associates. Image © Shinichi Ogawa & Associates

Built-in bathtubs

Built-in bathtubs are unfinished bathtubs that can be set in a frame or surrounded by a rim and exterior structure that can be finished in any material. Unlike an alcove bath, drop-in baths offer the flexibility of placement in the bathroom as well as greater soaking depth. Drop-In tubs are installed in a custom enclosure and feature a rim around the tub that produces a unique style for each individual application.

Sébastopol / Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Residence.  Image © David Wakely
Sébastopol / Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Residence. Image © David Wakely

Undermount baths

Perhaps the most versatile, a sunken tub is installed under a rim, meaning that the deck or surrounding area is covered so that the tub itself is supported by the floor structure below. Built-in bathtubs are enclosed in a housing that can be the same material as the stone or tile used in the flooring – blending together perfectly. They can be placed anywhere in a room and the wide rim is great for storage.

Refuge Lieptgas / Georg Nickisch + Selina Walder.  Image © Ralph Feiner
Refuge Lieptgas / Georg Nickisch + Selina Walder. Image © Ralph Feiner

Click here to see more examples of how these five distinctive tub typologies are used in contemporary applications.



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