Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB

Montreal’s famous floating river boat spa gets 5,000sq ft spa garden with shipping containers

by Jane Kitchen | 02 Oct 2015

Montreal, Canada’s famous floating spa, Bota Bota, has added a 5,000sq ft (465sq m) spa garden with a pool, hot tub, cold bath, steam bath, solarium, rest areas, outdoor fireplace and yoga platform.

Designed by Montreal-based MU Architecture, the Bota Bota Gardens is “an oasis of relaxation” between the boat-spa, the Saint-Lawrence River, and the elevated railway.

“The idea was to double the capacity and to expand the experience outdoors,” said architect Jean-Sebastian Herr told CLAD. “We wanted to create something different, but we wanted to make something that connected as well. The corridors, rooms and spaces in the spa are all fairly narrow because it’s in a boat. We wanted our project to be completely the opposite – more bright, open and green – but still merge with the spa.”

MU Architecture designed a series of green steps that gradually link the boat and the ground, and chose shipping containers as the main elements of construction. The containers were in reference to the spa’s river location and also frame the garden with views of the surrounding grain silos, the architecturally unique housing community Habitat 67, the Old Port and the skyscrapers of the city.

“It was based on the idea of an oasis,” said architect Charles Cote. “It is designed to be an urban retreat in the middle of the city.”

The containers also helped with the challenges of the build. With the site surrounded by water, it was impossible to bring in heavy machinery. The site also needed to be built in a semi-permanent manner, as the land is technically leased from the city.

Shipping containers, in addition to being an opportunity to recycle, could be brought in by barge to house the relaxation areas and steam bath.

“We wanted to bring that industrial feel with the containers and metal, but give it a more natural feel with the wood so that it merges with the environment,” added Cote.

The project used just three materials: stone for the ground, to give the effect that the area was carved from rock; durable ipe wood, which covers the containers, softening their impact and removing the industrial aspect; and white painted steel panels for the roof, which brings back a light industrial touch.

“When you have fewer materials, the impact of the architecture is stronger,” said Herr.

Bota Bota Gardens also features a geothermal radiant heated flooring system that keeps guests’ toes toasty all year long. The pioneering system is powered by recovering energy from waste water from the boat, combined with water from the Saint Lawrence River.

A second phase of the Bota Bota Gardens is planned within the next two years, which will add additional rest areas and a sauna.

Montreal, Canada’s famous floating spa, Bota Bota, has added a 5,000sq ft (465sq m) spa garden with a pool, hot tub, cold bath, steam bath, solarium, rest areas, outdoor fireplace and yoga platform. Designed by Montreal-based MU Architecture, the Bota Bota Gardens is “an oasis of relaxation” between the boat-spa, the Saint-Lawrence River, and the elevated railway. “The idea was to double the capacity and to expand the experience outdoors,”
SAB,CPW,ARC,DES,CLD,SWC
Designed by Montreal-based MU Architecture, the Bota Bota Gardens is 'an oasis of relaxation' / MU Architecture
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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB
Koelnmesse GmbH / FSB