Wellness

Myths of monsters and men

Surrealist folk tales and moss-covered lava fields have inspired an Icelandic spa retreat that promises to take guests on a journey to enlightenment. Kim Megson highlights the details


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

Tales of trolls, elves, monsters and invisible men roaming Iceland’s majestic volcanic landscape have inspired the design of a proposed spa and wellness retreat located next to a geothermal lagoon.

Architecture practice Johannes Torpe Studio have drawn on the mysterious topography of caves, craters and moss-covered lava fields found in the Snæfellsness peninsula to devise a spa that will be immersed in mythology, storytelling and nature.

The region is home to a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano, which famously starred in Jules Verne’s 1864 science fiction classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth as the passageway into a subterranean world. It is also known from the Icelandic saga of Baroar Snæfellsas, a half-man–half-troll who left the chaotic world of men behind to live in solitude inside the glacier.

Now the volcano could provide the backdrop for The Red Mountain Resort, an 800sq m (8,600sq ft) spa retreat that will take guests on their own version of Baroar’s journey towards enlightenment.

Panoramic mountain and volcano views and vast grassy wetlands flowing with winding rivers will lead guests to the resort. Subtly camouflaged within the landscape, the red-hued hotel will “seem to magically appear just as they arrive.” A sense of surrealism familiar from Icelandic folk tales will be expressed through a series of subtle design features merging the earthly and the otherworldly.

Reflecting glass on the exterior of the main building will create a mirror effect, allowing it to disappear into the landscape, while portals and tunnels will be placed throughout the complex to enhance the feeling that guests are following in Baroar’s footsteps.

At the heart of the 150-bedroom resort will be an extensive spa, in which guests will voyage through a series of ‘emotional stages’, each of which will be articulated through different expressions of Icelandic nature, including wind tunnels, fire baths, rain curtains, ice pools and pitch black slides. “We want to create the illusion that guests are entering another world when they arrive at the resort,” says studio founder Johannes Torpe. “We have envisioned the Red Mountain Resort as a place that goes beyond traditional wellness and pampering, and dares to invite its guests to confront whatever is troubling them.”

A man-made 1,000sq m (10,700sq ft) geothermal lagoon is designed to look like a natural extension of the landscape and will feature shallow passages, rapids and still pools, with the water flowing into the reception of the hotel – blurring the line between outside and inside.

While still at the concept stage, Icelandic company Festir Ehf is currently doing geological checks and testing the nearby geothermal water.

The Spa Journey

Studio founder Johannes Torpe describes the spa experience

LOST - The steamroom’s foggy atmosphere represents the sense of being lost, and is a trigger for rediscovering oneself

Lost
Lost

CONTEMPLATIVE - Clay baths create an intimate, peaceful space for self-reflection and internal stillness in the contemplative area of the spa

Contemplative
Contemplative

EXPOSED - At the volcano fire bath, guests access an inner state of vulnerability and acceptance, stepping outside their comfort zones

Exposed
Exposed

CONFRONTED - The contrasting effect between light and dark encourages guests to overcome fear and creates a sense of intrigue and mystery

Confronted
Confronted

CLARITY - An open-roofed ice bath uses natural light to create a state of clarity. The contrast of going from hot to cold creates energy

Clarity
Clarity

ENLIGHTENED - The highly sensory experience of floating allows guests to lose touch with the physicality of their bodies and have a feeling of transcendence

Enlightened
Enlightened
Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Gharieni Group GmbH
Gharieni Group is based in Germany and is a leading European manufacturer of high end spa and medical furniture, beds and equipment with 25 years of experience. All products are high-quality productions, made in Germany.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Restoration work on Nanshufang, one of the most architecturally impressive buildings
"This carefully choreographed interplay of room and courtyard extends through all scales of the masterplan"

The desire to save a threatened forest and historic buildings in China led to a truly unique resort, We speak to the people that made it happen

Musée de la Romanité is next to an ancient amphitheatre in Nîmes
French-Brazilian architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc designed the museum
"This museum is the smallest public facility I’ve worked on, but the most symbolic"

On her futuristic new museum

The duo are aiming to work with hotels, resorts and sports clubs
Meis has helped design some of the world’s most successful stadiums
"It’s one of the tragedies of the US that so many of our stadiums get replaced after 20 years"

The Everton and AS Roma stadium architect talks through the challenges and rewards of sports facility design

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Bullock is currently leading the Destination Crenshaw project in LA
Gabrielle Bullock studied architecture and fine art at the Rhode Island School of Design
"I’m one of 424 black female licensed architects in the US. We represent 0.2 per cent of the profession"

Architects must reflect the world they design for, says Perkins+Will’s director of global diversity

For the Bagel Garden, Schwartz used only materials she could buy in her neighbourhood
Martha Schwartz
"No one is taking the issue of climate change seriously. Some bad things will have to happen before there is a change"

The outspoken landscape architect on climate change, bagels and being controversial

features
Matteo Thun leads a design studio of over 70 people, with offices in Milan and Shanghai
"We want a longer life cycle for every product, even if it means business is slower"

Simplicity and sustainability should be at the heart of all design argues the Italian architect

David Collins and Iain Watson
Dublin-born David Collins moved to London in the 1980s and founded David Collins Studio in 1985
"The Studio is such a big part of our lives, that it just continued, albeit through a very challenging period"

David Collins was behind the design of many of London’s hottest destinations Today his legacy lives on via the studio’s glamorous international projects

cladkit product news
Kvorning wins contest to design aquaculture exhibit at Norway's Coastal Museum
The exhibition explores the history of Norway's fish-farming industry dating back to 1970
Lauren Heath-Jones
Copenhagen-based design studio Kvorning Design and Norwegian advertising agency Vindfang have won a competition, organised by Museums in Sør Trøndelag ...
Ben van Berkel launches UNSense startup to boost health and wellbeing in built environments
Kim Megson
Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and ...
Parkside opens flagship Chelsea showroom
The showroom is designed to inspire its clients
Lauren Heath-Jones
Parkside, a designer of contemporary porcelain and ceramic tiles, has opened its first showroom in the UK. Located in Chelsea ...
cladkit product news
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
Dornbracht debuts Rainmoon wellness shower concept at  Salone del Mobile
Rainmoon is a multi-sensory wellness experience designed to revitalise and reinvigorate the user
Lauren Heath-Jones
Dornbracht, a German-based luxury bathroom specialist, has launched an innovative new shower experience, Rainmoon. Slated as the next generation of ...
cladkit product news
Carlo Ratti's 'wonder wall' robot could become reality with kickstarter campaign
Unveiled at Milan Design Week, as part of Ratti's Living Nature installation, the Scribit is the result of Ratti's ongoing investigation into and development of writing machines
Lauren Heath-Jones
Carlo Ratti Associatti has developed an intelligent robot capable of writing and drawing on vertical surfaces. Called Scribit, the device ...
Bright Buildings to create UK's first 'open sky' swimming pool
Bright Buildings will create the retractable roof for the Open Sky pool at Ivybridge Leisure Centre
Lauren Heath-Jones
Leisure operator Fusion Lifestyle has announced that it will invest millions of pounds over the course of the next three ...