The rapid rise of city living has often been incongruous with human wellbeing, a reality that has been accentuated by the recent pandemic. During the various lockdowns, many people experienced isolation, both from their immediate community and the natural world. As a result, collective mental and physical health suffered and there is now an increased urgency to reimagine our cities to deliver wellbeing for all, reconnecting us with nature and each other.
London is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world – home to an incredible blend of heritage, culture and innovation. Unsurprisingly, its population growth is adhering to the global trend, increasing by nearly 10% since 2011 and forecast to reach c. 10.7 million people by 2050 (source: London Data Store
). A city of such scale creates incredible energy and opportunity; however, there is an inevitable flip slide grappling with challenges such as health inequalities
, variable air quality (indoor as well as out) and social isolation.
Therme Group looks to create networks of organisations and individuals who are working to alleviate the current challenges of urban life. It also acts as a catalyst for increased green and blue infrastructure to create more liveable or ‘human’ cities
. Therme destinations introduce access to nature, building sustainable and inclusive spaces which help people live healthier, happier and more energised lives.
As an integrated wellbeing experience, a Therme includes core elements of expansive thermal bathing, a next-generation waterpark and wellbeing treatments and experiences. Layered on top of this are botanical gardens and urban farms – growing fresh, nutritious leafy greens for consumption in our restaurants; education and learning hubs – creating wellbeing centres of excellence; immersive art and live entertainment – delivering local and international cultural programmes. This combination of elements, delivered in developments with biophilic architecture and natural environments, enables Therme to go far beyond being just a waterpark and spa, but to act as a social and cultural centre which benefits health and wellbeing in every aspect of people’s lives.
In many ways, Therme can be viewed as a new form of social infrastructure, with the potential to integrate with London’s health eco-system by supporting citizens to stay healthy as well as aiding recovery from injury and illness. This can create an excellent opportunity for social prescribing to provide relief to our amazing but stretched NHS - a PWC economic impact study estimated Therme Manchester could lower hospital admissions by 1.1 million days per year by benefiting physical health, mental health and diet.
So, what is the context for a Therme project in London and what might it look like?
Therme London is one of a collection of high profile, globally iconic projects that are set to transform the wellbeing infrastructure of major global cities worldwide. It sits at the heart of our UK ‘90/90’ vision – 90% of the UK population within a 90-minute travel time of a Therme. Therme Manchester (planned to start on-site in 2023) will be the first project in our nationwide roll-out with Glasgow and London to follow (further cities to be announced). The delivery of this vision over the next 10 years will see a c. £2bn capital investment into UK wellbeing infrastructure, supporting over 30,000 jobs and generating c. £21bn GVA for the UK economy (source PWC).
While every new Therme shares the same DNA in the core concept and our ambition to deliver wellbeing for all, they are also individual and unique in terms of building design and typology. Every project responds to the specific health and wellbeing challenges of its city and community, as well as to the architectural context and setting – be it a new build or a reuse of an existing building envelope. As we progress our plans for London we will work with authorities and communities to create a Therme that truly meets their needs. Understanding community and culture is essential for long term success and to nurture a true sense of local ownership and belonging.
Our journey to bring a Therme to London is underway and we are excited to be part of the solution to enhance the wellbeing of future generations of this wonderful city, positioning London as a global capital of wellbeing.