In one of the area’s many hot spring swaps, characterised by sensational colours and a great variety of rare plants and animals, Holzbauer und Partner have built a spa complex on a tongue of earth projecting out into the centre of a lake: designed as a spiral starting out from a core consisting of the swimming pool - the heart of all the activities taking place around it - it extends to embrace the landscape, which becomes part of the project itself.
Used as both a spa and fitness centre, commonly associated nowadays in line with the trend towards simultaneous treatment of body and soul, the centre is well organised thanks to this big spiral or snail shape, which we immediately associate with the natural, archaic worlds of land and water, and turns out to be a form serving attentive distribution of the different spaces and activities organised at the centre.
Starting with the big pool completely surrounded by glass walls with homogeneous porcelain stoneware flooring reproducing the ancient hues of stone, and also including hotel’s 150 rooms, a separate spa, a sauna and a restaurant with its waiting area: the spiral layout ensures that all the spaces enjoy views of the landscape.
The path to wellness starts out at the hot spring pool: the idea of guiding the centre's guests in an experience strongly inspired by the virtues of the earth is metaphorically represented by a path paved in strong, expressive ceramic materials, all supplied by Ariostea of Italy. Continuity between outside and inside is ensured by the composition of the big round south-facing window, and by choice of a single pavement for use in both contexts, Pietra di Merano, combining resistance with precious stony hues.
The sense of visual continuity thus created is reminiscent of a bed of sand, introducing a feeling of relaxation and spirituality.
The path continues, marked by a slight change in hue to Basalto Grigio at the entrance to the restaurant, which is paved in Rovere Antico from Ariostea’s high-tech woods collection. Here the contrast in materials, interpreted through juxtaposition of cold hues with the warm colours of nature, marks one of the latest milestones in ceramics technology, transforming a single material, porcelain stoneware, into two different materials, wood and stone, in the service of architecture.
The preference for dark, introspective hues continues into the spa zone, where a Pietra di Merano mosaic alternates with Black Ardesia. More delicate, lighter Pietra di Borgogna covers transit zones, where, along with the decorative motif of the mats, it emphasises the chiaroscuro of the Pietra Piasentina flooring. Earth shades accompany visitors to their rooms, where Pietra di Merano provides the backdrop for elegant furnishings and a hydromassage tub.
Above the building, where the hotel volume seems to detach itself from the spa, there are large terraces with an astronomic observation point: the path that starts in the water and continues onto solid earth seems to want to take us all the way up to the stars.
by Mara Corradi
Design: Studio Holzbauer und Partner
Client: owners of the St Martins Therme & Lodge
Location: Frauenkirchen, Seewinkel Nature Park, Burgenland region (Austria)
Surface area covered with Ariostea tiles: 26,000 m2
Project date: August 2008
Black Ardesia 60x30 tiles in Turkish baths and sensorial and rain showers: Ariostea (High-tech stones collection)
Pietra di Merano 60x30 floor and wall tiles in hotel room bathrooms and spa swimming pool: Ariostea (High-tech stones collection)
Basalto Grigio 60x30 floor tiles in the lobby, spa restaurant, and hotel restaurant: Ariostea (High-tech stones collection)
Rovere Antico flooring in the lounge, entrance hall, restaurant and fireplace room: Ariostea (High-tech woods collection)
Pietra di Borgogna 60x30 wall tiles in the Junior Suite: Ariostea(High-tech stones collection)
Pietra Piasentina PS 60x30 wall tiles in the spa’s Saunawelt area, entrance, indoor/outdoor lounges and shop: Ariostea (High-tech stones collection)