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Health & Fitness

Pumped up

Philippe Starck’s first company was set up to create inflatable objects in the 1960s. Almost 50 years later, as his ‘inflatable’ health club in Montpellier, France celebrates its first birthday, we take a look around


French designer Philippe Starck has created an ‘inflatable’ health club in Montpelier, France, by cladding the building with fluorine-based ETFE to create a bubble-like façade housing 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,” said 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.”

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 spaces are original and welcoming.

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