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Submersive's psychedelic bathhouse concept fusing wellness, art and tech to arrive in 2026

28 Jun 2024
In 2026, the traditional bathhouse experience will get a futuristic twist with the arrival of Submersive – an innovative concept combining classical spa therapies with art, AI technology and multimedia effects.

Described as the world’s first immersive art bathhouse concept, Submersive is the brainchild of Corvas Brinkerhoff, co-founder of Meow Wolf, the company behind mind-bending interactive art and entertainment installations.

In the latest issue of Spa Business, Brinkerhoff explains his vision behind the concept and shares his ambitions to realise a portfolio of 12 Submersive properties by 2034.

Using AI, neuroaesthetics, lighting, video and sound effects, locations will be scientifically developed to transport guests into an elevated state of consciousness.

The bathhouses will be anchored by a main communal area and feature traditional spa elements such as thermal pools, steamrooms, saunas, waterfalls, grottos, flotation and cooler options for contrast bathing.

Every destination will feature 12 immersive rooms, each designed to induce a different heightened emotion – including awe, wonder, euphoria, inspiration, connection or transcendence.

"Submersive is essentially a massive state-change machine, an immersive art creation that can heal you," Brinkerhoff says.

Wearables and biofeedback
One of the most significant aspects of the proposition is that Submersive’s environments will be experiments in themselves.

Spearheaded by lead scientific advisor Beau Lotto, Submersive will periodically test the impact of its rooms on volunteers using wearables such as mobile EEG headsets and heart rate sensors.

These findings will give valuable biofeedback data that Submersive will then integrate into its audiovisual systems and the design process as development continues.

“Our goal is to amass the world’s deepest understanding of how multisensory experiences affect us on a physiological level,” says Brinkerhoff. “Each environment is designed to get you into a different state so there’s an inherent hypothesis we’re testing to see how the efficacy of that room compares with our intended outcome.”

International debut
The flagship Submersive facility will span 25,000sq ft and open in Austin, Texas, in 2026. After proof of concept, Brinkerhoff plans to double the size of the facility in 2028, adding more immersive environments and other amenities.

Initially, Submersive will be able to accommodate 80 people at a time, with capacity going up to 180 once fully complete.

There will be a timed entry and a choice of three-hour, five-hour or full-day experiences. Price points will start at US$60 (€55, £47) and the average ticket cost will sit at US$88 (€81, £69). The goal is to attract up to 200,000 visitors a year.

“We plan to start working on our second location soon after opening the first and have ambitions to grow quickly,” Brinkerhoff says, stating that beyond the US, western Europe and Japan will be a priority.

Want to learn more? Head to the latest issue of Spa Business for the full interview with Brinkerhoff.

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