The Roman baths represented a place for the wellbeing in the modern sense
of the word. In the early Republican era the Romans used to have an open air
bath with cold water, but soon many Romans used a room of their houses as
a bathroom, which became heated and increasingly large, with more rooms
used for sauna, massages or just relaxation.
Nowadays we can still admire the remains of the grand thermal buildings that
were built during the empire, that represented a social institution in every
respects. In fact the baths were open to everybody, regardless of their social
class, and the Romans frequented them almost daily. This was their favorite
pastime, and the reason why the design and the construction of the
structures were meticulous in details.
The spaces dedicated at the thermal complex were wide and divided into
different zones with different temperatures. The windows were enormous because more sunlight meant less heating, but there were problems since the
windows as well as store heat than disperse it, so the Romans invented the
double glazing… Yes, double glazing already existed two thousand years
ago! As a matter of fact, the space between the two panes avoid the heatloss.
The entire thermal system was heated by a smart network of channels
carrying the hot air under the floor and through holes in the walls. Where it
was possible the thermal plant was directly feed by hot springs, otherwise
the air heating system warmed also the water circulating inside the complex,
using the principle that hot water tends to rise and the cold one tends to fall,
allowing the cycle of water without the use of a pump.
The Baths of Caracalla are one of the most impressive examples of
spas in the ancient imperial Rome. They are at the foot of
the Aventine and could fit up to 1.500 people.
Although the complex was very lavish, spas
were intended for mass use.