London’s first floating bathing retreat receives planning permission, opening 2024
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London’s first floating bathing retreat receives planning permission, opening 2024

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Our vision is to launch in London and expand to other water spaces, to create a ribbon of facilities that elevate and celebrate bathing experiences in urban environments

Planning permission has been granted for a new 60-metre floating wellness barge in London, designed to offer an urban hydrotherapy retreat for city dwellers.

Named Blue Mind Barge (BMB), the project is the brainchild of bodywork therapist Nico Thoemmes and will be home to a two-floor 750sq m bathing destination capable of accommodating up to 110 people.

Facilities will include a 25-metre outdoor natural pool, a panoramic glass sauna supplied by Heartwood, a cold plunge pool and hot bathing experiences, in addition to five treatment rooms, an alcohol-free lounge and a 50-metre floating garden.

Tower Hamlets Council gave the green light for planning permission for the upcoming destination in West India Quay earlier this month.

BMB is anticipated to open in a year and a half to two years and – according to Thoemmes – has a name derived from the term ‘blue mind’ which was first coined by author Wallace J Nicholls to describe “the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on, or underwater”.

The £3m (US$3.6m €3.5m) BMB is being funded by angel investors, crowdfunding, sponsorship and debt finance. It’s already been in the works for two years and was originally named Water Cures Spa.

Thoemmes says the vision for BMB is to establish a UK urban bathing concept which provides “a spectrum of sublime bathing practices to heal, connect and inspire”.

The concept is inspired by sauna culture, blue health, wild swimming, reconnecting with nature, the power of touch and a spark of idealism.

“We wanted to create an easily accessible bathing experience that customers can regularly weave into their daily lifestyles like fitness or yoga classes, instead of being an occasional treat,” Thoemmes told Spa Business.

“After a planning process that took two years, we’re thrilled to be able to move forwards and begin fundraising and explore partnership opportunities.

“Our vision is to launch in London and expand to other water spaces, to create a ribbon of facilities that elevate and celebrate bathing experiences in urban environments and in turn foster meaningful relationships to our mostly underused waterscapes.”

With membership packages available, BMB will provide a range of traditional bathhouse treatments and massage and bodywork therapies.

Thoemmes explained that he's particularly excited about the destination's potential to promote the benefits of touch therapy in a society deprived of touch following the pandemic.

“Touch is fundamental to human bonding, communication and health,” he said, “modern life provides a dizzying array of opportunities to forget the body and touch can play an effective and meaningful role in re-orienting us in our bodies, helping us find comfort, ease, belonging and joy.

“Touch is the first language we encounter and the need for touch doesn't go away as we grow older.”

Thoemmes launched a previous wellbeing venture in 2015 when he co-founded ‘Morning Gloryville’ – an immersive and sober wellness rave experience that took place on Wednesday mornings before work.

In order to realise his latest concept, Thoemmes has collaborated with architecture firm dRMM which focuses on creating sustainable, socially-useful architecture.

The idea for the barge comes from both Thoemmes and dRMM architect Alex de Rijke’s experience of living on boats, which they see as providing a refreshing antidote to the conventions of buildings.

For the past 25 years, dRMM has proposed many floating projects but BMB marks the first of its kind to be approved by local councils for construction.

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Planning permission has been granted for a new 60-metre floating wellness barge in London, designed to offer an urban hydrotherapy retreat for city dwellers.
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JP Lennard
JP Lennard