Competition. Third Prize
The idea behind the design of the Gaudí System lies in the conversion of the bathroom to a versatile and multipurpose living space. A living surface reciprocates to the moods of the user, in an effort to “humanize” an object that we use in our daily lives. Users can create their own space by reshaping the bathroom floor in a form-follows-function approach, that responds to a basic need: the desire for individuality. People’s needs are reflected to forming and reshaping of space in real-time. The design is about the positive feelings humans get from their interaction with living systems.
A single surface organizes the bathroom floor through a uniform tessellated pattern that consists of antibacterial rubber tiles. These are attached on a stretchable, water resistant polyurethane-coated Spandex membrane that is resilient and durable. With the help of hydraulic actuators that are fully integrated in the floor, the surface can be reshaped in a variety of formations in order to convert the shower floor to an artificial bathing landscape. A concealed overflow channel and extendable taps allow the whole system to flush with the floor and disappear completely when not in use.
The design was born from the idea of how to provide maximum flexibility that reflects the individual lifestyle, while helping to tell the story of a space and the people who occupy it. With its huge range of possible combinations and versatility, the system adopts to suit every situation, growing with the single user as well as the changing needs of different users. From both a psychological and a functional point of view it is proven that people interact more efficiently and in a more pleasant manner with objects that can empathize and connect to.
Considering that price of water and energy in the near future will be significantly higher globally, the whole system addresses issues of energy efficiency and subsequently money saving through critical aspects of its design. The system doesn’t only give a response to the variety of bathroom necessities that are totally controlled by the user. Taking into account physically satisfying posture and ergonomics, the bathtub shape can be adjusted to person’s body type, minimizing the water required to fill it when in use if the user requires so: smaller for children – larger for adults.
Rubber tiles were chosen due to their lightweight nature that allows the flexibility of the structure, but also due to their low thermal conductivity. Rubber has lower thermal conductivity than porcelain, ceramic or acrylic surfaces that are commonly used in bathtubs and shower floors. This means that when the rubber surface is in touch with the body, the exchange of thermal energy is minimum and therefore it is not required to overheat the water, in order to compensate for the loss of heat absorbed from the tile surface. Subsequently this saves energy and also creates a comfortable environment for the user. The same comfortable feeling is attained when the surface is used to take a shower barefoot.
The system is further combined with a thermostatic valve that allows maintaining the water temperature to 38 °C, which is close to the normal body temperature. This results to increased user comfort, because the hot-water temperature remains constant and also provides high level of protection against scalding and thermal shock. Moreover, it reduces hot water consumption in order to regulate the temperature. Not only this helps to save water, but also allows cutting down on fuel use, since by using less hot water the heating system saves gas or electricity, and in turn reduces CO2 emissions.
A puristic approach boasts a distinctive fusion of functionality and aesthetics in an effort to maintain aesthetic integrity. The minimalistic design allows architecturally attractive solutions for multifunctional living spaces, since the same system can be used for a variety of different needs through its adaptive nature. The retractable structure offers more flexibility to the space and can be matched to the relevant interior and ambience, thus maximizing the product’s target group in the market. The homogenous appearance helps achieving an uncluttered architectural look in harmony with ergonomics. The transformative nature of the system renders it resilient, since it can achieve maximum functionality with minimal design.