Bathhouse culture traces back centuries. Made famous by Turkish hammams, Hungarian thermal springs and the ancient bacchanalian hangouts of Romans and Greeks, its meanings have changed considerably over the years. For Wang Bang, principal designer and chief architect at Beijing-based DJX Design Studio, modern iterations of these sacred sites need to go beyond being simply therapeutic and social in their presentation. For him, they should be synonymous with spirituality and spiritual wellness, giving due homage to their past incarnations.
That philosophy thrives at the Qushui-Lanting Resort Hotel in Hangzhou, China. Bang’s firm designed the location as a holistic spa retreat, bringing together and cultivating communities through, as he puts it, a “laser focus on the function of light” and how it plays into the surroundings of the space.
“When the light touches different materials in various shades and forms, it not only defines the boundaries, but also conveys the logic of the space, creating a connection between the indoors and the outdoors,” he explains. “Through the interplay of light and shadow, people can see the passage of time and experience a moment of tranquility.”
Achieving a Spatial Balance for Reflection
An immense amount of light makes its way into Qushui-Lanting, yet it is never too bright or overbearing, especially in relation to resorts other star player: water. In the spa, Bang wanted to ensure that the light didn’t distract from the wellness offerings, such as relaxation pools carved into simple, geometric forms. Instead, he wished to cultivate an ambience full of balanced reflections that relaxes spa-goers, mind, body and soul.
Brass also features heavily into the design of the surrounding property, its distinctive, polished hues lining corridors and light fixtures throughout the space. “At the [hotel’s] entrance, a wall combining brass and concrete with a water curtain divides the interior and exterior,” Bang explains. Though, despite being striking, elegant design elements overall, these accents and curves bear a utilitarian purpose, ushering guests throughout the property as understanded pathways along the walls. Their limited use in contrast with the minimalist starkness of the hotel’s forms and monochrome color palette imbue a grandness and liveliness into the spaces. It goes beyond being a simple installation, as Bang puts it, and stands as a grounding signpost in the spiritual retreat that the resort offers.
Another version of this article previously appeared on Hospitality Design.