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10 Sep 2019

Bath to host major wellbeing festival
BY Jane Kitchen

Bath, England is home to YTL Hotels' Gainsborough Bath Spa

Bath, England is home to YTL Hotels' Gainsborough Bath Spa

The historic city of Bath, England will host a festival this month featuring a series of walks, talks and activities themed around making a city good for body, mind and soul. Set for 20-27 September, the Therapeutic City Festival opens the conversation about how we design and manage a city for wellbeing.

The festival looks at Bath’s history as a ‘therapeutic city’, a place where people have come not only to use the thermal waters but also to be restored by Bath’s beautiful setting and public spaces.

“As Bath applies to UNESCO to be recognised as one of the Great Spas of Europe, we ask the questions – what should a 21st century spa city be like?” the organisers said. “Does the whole city still have therapeutic value? Can it be an antidote to the common stress and pollution normally associated with urban environments?”

Bath has been a spa town since Roman times; the well-preserved Roman Baths remain an important visitor attraction today. The city is also home to YTL Hotels’ Gainsborough Bath Spa, the Thermae Bath Spa and the Cross Bath.

In the 18th and 19th centuries visitors also came to Bath for enlightenment – the city was the centre of the latest radical ideas, debates and thought. The Therapeutic City Festival will continue this tradition by holding seven days of provocative talks and events, aimed at local residents, the general public and professionals involved in the design and management of Bath and other cities.

The Therapeutic City Festival is created by Architecture Is, the collective behind the 2017 Festival of the Future City in Bath, and supported by RIBA.

“The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are delighted to be supporting this festival; it highlights the need to open up conversations around ‘the use of a city’ and what type of legacy we want to leave behind,” said Jon Watkins, RIBA South West regional director. “Architecture is central to this and plays a significant role in engaging communities - we need to learn to be more sustainable and societies are demanding better infrastructure to change the way we live and work together.”

A conference on the final day of the festival, Friday 27 September, will bring together international policymakers, designers and developers to explore how to create a city that promotes and supports wellbeing. Speakers include Basalt Architects, Grant Associates, Invisible Studio, Tonkin Liu, Townshend Landscape Architects and more.

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