The Blue Clay Country Spa (BCCS) competition brief imagines a seamless relationship between the private experience of retreat and the shared experience of spa. Our proposal weaves this interconnected program through the site, engaging its most prominent features: the oak trees and lake. The result of this makes for a curated architectural narrative as the visitor makes their way through site, a narrative which is both prescribed and open ended. The undulations of the building's form creates an interplay between intimate moments that embrace the trunks of the oak trees and more expansive panoramic vistas that open out to the landscape. Almost hidden from view and never experienced as singular object, the building is not an imposition on its context but a platform from which to appreciate it.
Design Collaborators: Cass Nakashima
Program: Spa, guesthouse, service house and site amenities
Client: SRED Global
Size: 720 sm
The programmatic needs of the BCCS beget a design that is both introverted and extroverted, as dictated by the three major program elements. At their most basic, these ideas can be expressed architecturally as courtyard buildings with their focus and circulation either oriented inward or outward. We begin here and then proceed to split each archetype...
...and attach the elements to create a seamless whole. At the same time, splitting the courtyard archetype opens the spaces to the natural beauty of the site.
This basic concept is then adapted to the specific idiosyncrasies of the project site. At the same time, the form is expanded where necessary to accommodate the program.
The result of these interventions is a building form that connects the three distinct major program while provided each a specific identity. Each program element also benefits from a unique courtyard quality, each organized around an existing oak tree.
Finally, the three programs are connected to the site and the landscape via a continuous indoor/outdoor circulation vein which snakes through the site and building to create a curated narrative as the user navigates the space.
The guesthouse frames one of the oak trees, creating an intimate family courtyard. Each room of the guesthouse has direct access to this courtyard, creating a seamless transition between indoors and outdoor activities. A meadow of flowers doubles as a playground for the children to frolic while offering a soft place to sit and read a book. The edible vegetable garden provides the guests a taste of fresh produce from the site's very own rich soil.
In contrast to the more open and lighter textured interiors throughout the circulation path and other interior programs, the interior of the spa is treated as a completely inward-looking experience. The walls are darker, treated with a blue clay finish. Light is carefully controlled, purposefully emphasizing the quality of light and space over the views. Here a guest in the mud spa meditates in a graduating wash of light, freed from outside stimulus to focus on her thoughts.
The spa program benefits from a courtyard deliberately left open on one side in a move aimed at inextricably tying the program to the landscape. Here a guest braves the cold to arrive at the comfort of the heated outdoor tub. The distance and journey makes the patron ever cognizant of the power of the beauty of the site, no matter the weather.