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Philippe Starck - Designer

PROJECT: Le Nuage club


French designer Philippe Starck has created an ‘inflatable’ health club in Montpellier, France, by cladding the building with fluorine-based ETFE to create a bubble-like façade housing health and fitness facilities over five floors.

Opened in October 2014, the Le Nuage club includes a fitness studio and gym, swimming pool, café, children’s area, hairdressers and beauty salon. The striking interior features a range of Starck-designed furniture; the exterior can change colour with the use of external lighting.

Roxim, the developer, says the building was inspired by the gymnasiums developed into baths during the Greek and Roman times, which were designed to be places for both training and relaxation.

“The beauty and richness of life arises from diversity, translucency and projections,” says Starck. “This building is the opposite of an architectural gesture. It is a ‘nearly nothing’; an urban space, a chaotic and free town, a magic bubble; virtually indestructible, even though it only has the thickness of a few tenths of a millimetre. Le Nuage is a factory of energy for everyone and for the town of Montpellier.”

While something of Starck’s meaning may be lost in translation, the building speaks for itself. Unusually-designed health clubs are something of a rarity, and this one stands out. The exterior is striking, but doesn’t feel gimmicky, and the interior is original and welcoming.

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