Located on China’s Hainan Island, the recently completed Mission Hills Volcanic Mineral Springs and Spa by SB Architects stands as one of the largest spa destinations in the world. Janice Seow reports.
December 6th, 2011
The Mission Hills Volcanic Mineral Springs and Spa on the northern coast of China’s Hainan Island is home to the largest natural springs reserve in the region, measuring an incredible 950,000sq ft.
It forms a major component of 5-star resort, Mission Hills, Haikou.
“They (the client) wanted to offer more than the traditional spa experience,” says Scott A. Lee, president and principal of SB Architects.
“We strove to create an authentic experience – one that was rooted in Chinese tradition, but that offered an exploration of traditions from around the world.”
The Spa at Mission Hills is the central defining feature of the expansive mineral springs complex. It is surrounded by 473,000sq ft of lushly landscaped gardens, 168 volcanic lava springs and water features, and treatment venues inspired (both architecturally and in their spa offerings) by the geographical locations of Asia, Oceania, North & South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The main spa structure is made of soaring, semi-circular bamboo that rises from a massive lava stone base – slightly canted to increase the sense of grandeur. Apart from the powerful design statement it makes, the use of locally abundant material also grounds the design in the nature and topography of Hainan Island.
“Working with bamboo was new for us as a design team. We used it in so many ways throughout the project. It was an interesting extension of our repertoire, from both a structural and aesthetic standpoint,” says Lee.
“We worked to make it seem as if the buildings are an extension of the ground they stand on – the canted walls of the main spa building really support that notion, as well as adding character and depth.”
Featuring 61 treatment suites, the Spa takes its design inspiration from the traditional Hakka Earthen Fortress Villages of Southern China. These distinctive communal structures – historically used for defense and communal living – have been recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites for their unique contribution to the history of building and human settlement.
“The Hakka forms allowed us to use curvilinear shapes rather than classical axis and symmetry to unite the master plan. The circular form also allowed us to introduce natural light and fresh air into the building, which is essential for a structure of this scale. Every treatment room either looks outward toward the expansive gardens of the Volcanic Mineral Springs, or inward toward the bamboo that surrounds the central structure,” says Lee.
The resort destination also houses 29 Spa Villas, set amidst the Volcanic Mineral Springs, for residents and guests seeking longer-term solace…
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