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Buckets to Bathtubs: How the University’s Design “Pails” in Comparison to a Statue of A Bath.

The Context

In 500 BC, Prince Bladud caught leprosy. He travelled to hot springs in the West of Briton, in which he bathed and apparently cured his ailment. He was so excited about not having leprosy anymore that he founded the city we now call Bath, dedicated to the Celtic god Sulis. Although legend, this tale indicates the importance of the natural springs in the area and the future significance of Bath as a spa town for the British Isles. The Romans then came along around the 1st century and built the actual baths we know and love, naming it Aquae Sulis so it sounded more Latin. Baththen went by several names including Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, meaning “at the baths”, before being officially chartered as a city in 1590 by Elizabeth I as “Bath”.

I hear you reader: “Tom, how come you are so incredibly attractive? Also, why did you just give us a history lesson instead of telling us about funny statue?”. Firstly, good diet and exercise combined with a healthy skin-care regime. Secondly, Bath’s identity is fundamentally tied to its hot springs and the historical recreational facilities built around them which became the city. Many people (the wonderful editing staff included) make the ever-original connection between Bath and a bathtub. However, the two linguistically grew up together, for the English understanding of spas and bathing were heavily influenced by early settlements like Bath.

Compared with the rest of Bath’s history, the University of Bath is relatively new, receiving its royal charter in 1966. I will not go into the history of the university here as it is not entirely relevant, although the university’s website does a great job at brown nosing itself (did you know we are the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide winner 2023?!). Still, the largest impact the university has had on the city is bringing in a large younger population who have since integrated into their new home. There are a lot of residents of Bath who were educated, are members of Team Bath, or have interacted with the University in some way. So, it would make sense for the university, if not for its historical impact, to celebrate then at least its home city.

Bath has developed some staple iconographic features over time. The river Avon, the gorgon Sulis, the sword of Bath, the Bath stone architecture to name a few. These are all already incorporated into the University’s design: many buildings use the stone, the university’s logo and coat of arms include the gorgon face (in all his moustachioed glory), the sword and wavy lines of the river. Acknowledgement of identifiers of Bath is very much established in the university, so a giant statue of a bathtub (although maybe slightly more on the nose) would not be unheard of.

The Proposal

Now all this is well and good but unfortunately (in spite of my excellent prose which radiates natural intelligence) I haven’t the foggiest where to start on a project like this. I might have to interview, say, the chair of the Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACESociety. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t respond to my emails, and I have a deadline. So, it looks like I, Tom Lowe, am about to earn myself a degree in architecture.

My hypothetical statue would be placed on top of the pond fountain, made from porcelain and have water shooting out of the top. Now naturally a few questions come up such as, “What does the bathtub symbolise? Why the fountain? Why hasn’t this been done before? Where are we going to get the bath?”. Do not fear doubting reader, I have thought this through with my wealth of experience procured over a matter of minutes drawing a crude tub with a sharpie. 

The bath itself is symbolic of the history of Bath, created by the University as a visual declaration of our love for our host city. Found near the centre of the university, the fountain seems primed as a plinth on which this monument to our home can be mounted. With water as a connecting theme, it only seems right for it to be placed there. Now as to why it has not been done before: I like to consider myself a revolutionary, a mark above the rest who would make reservations such as “it’s totally impractical”. Nonsense! When interviewing a member of the swim team on whether they could practice in the tub, they had this to say: “uhm maybe”. I also cornered a group of students enjoying their lunch by the pond who commented: “it’d be nice for ducks”. So once again, I find myself concluding that I am the only one who could design something so bold. 

Finally, as to where we’d precure this bathtub, it’s really a choice for you humble student of the University of Bath – this is your statue. This monument will outlive us all, and I believe that it shall be placed there by the collective will of students. If I might make a suggestion though, I would recommend the bathtub of the chair of ACE Society

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