The presence of mineral water in a town could turn it into an attraction. Developers seized the opportunity to build a number of interventions that directly arose from the presence of mineral waters, including; wells, swimming pools, bathhouses, hotels, and mineral water bottling facilities. Because Texas mineral groundwater is governed by the rule of capture, many privately owned businesses centered around mineral water capture emerged around the turn of the century. However, after World War I, the rise of modern medicine brought about a decline in popularity for mineral wells. The tourism around the wells began to drop off and many of the hotels and bathhouses associated with the wells fell into disrepair and or were destroyed by fire.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, medical tourism has been seeing a resurgence as tourists seek an authentic wellness experience in their travels.Trends indicate that people are increasingly seeking out more natural, organic wellness solutions and desire to find respite from large cities. From our research, we identified Glen Rose as a town with rich layers of strata in the ground, sitting atop the Trinity aquifer and with a robust system of mineral wells that could support this experience. With the Paluxy Creek cutting through the town, Glen Rose already boasts a public mineral water swimming pool and a number of wells.
In its effort to differentiate itself from other small Texas towns as a unique tourist destination, Glen Rose capitalizes on the shift in the health tourism movement in modern times.
Because the Texas Rule of Capture governs groundwater law and provides that a landowner has the right to pump groundwater accessible from beneath his or her property, the citizens of Glen Rose have decided to form a collaborative in which private businesses along the town square have utilized their individual right to collect groundwater and have pooled their resources together to convert the town’s central social space into a “wet town,” channeled through several wells across multiple properties. In the Grand architectural tradition, they “borrowed” the form of pools from rival mineral water towns and have taken inspiration from their travels to create replicas of their favorite pools from across the world.
Several blocks contain water treatment facilities such as a managed aquifer recharge zone, which ensures that water resources are not depleted.
These subsurface zones are allocated to treat water in an aquifer from a variety of sources, including river water, reclaimed water, and rainwater. Additionally, three water towers surround the town square and hold approximately one million gallons of water each, supporting three days’ worth of water supply for the community. Groundwater is pumped by a series of windmills. The design is an integrated system that celebrates and distributes mineral water. The town’s four quadrants cater to different programs associated with this natural resource, containing areas dedicated to bathing, swimming, drinking, and hospitality.
The northwest block of Glen Rose is filled with sports pools. There’s a saying around town that every kid in Glen Rose learns to swim before they walk. Here they have their field days and swim meets for the local schools. Coincidentally, the Glen Rose High School swim team has placed first in state ever since the new pools were added. Meanwhile, the Northeast block is home to a water bottling facility that distributes mineral water for drinking Glen Rose’s healing water. They are slowly but surely edging out their competitors, Crazy Water, in Mineral Wells to establish themselves as the premier mineral water of the Central Texas area. A number of hotels and bathhouses surround the periphery of the southern portion of the town square and serve as an area for guests to stay at and bathe in mineral water baths. Hipsters, the elderly, movie stars, and country folk all bathe in the same healing waters.
In response to the fluctuating demand for water usage throughout the day and between seasons, different blocks in Glen Rose will be filled and others left empty. This will further inform rituals and festivities taking place in the town.
Pools transform into popular public spaces including a skate park in the town square, an amphitheater in the southeast block, or even utilizing pool covers as a trampoline playground. On special occasions such as Glen Rose’s annual Local Band-Bash Splash Day, the town square will be the designated wet area of the town for people to gather. Glen Rose will celebrate its identity as the “dinosaur capital of Texas, ” with dinosaur statues spraying mineral water. Outdoor overhead mist machines above the town’s arches and on the grounds of the town square will create a fog that encompasses the courthouse and cools the space. The design elevates the environment of the small town into an immersive hydrophilic experience.