Hot Spring Resort in Sichuan
Hot Spring Resort in Sichuan
28. April 2015
The use of hot springs for wellbeing and medical care is an age-old practise in China. The new Ruff Well Water Resort designed by Shanghai-based architects AIM is an outstanding example of how that practise is reflected in contemporary society, particularly in new facilities for the urban middleclass. With high quality architecture and an innovative spatial layout, the resort adds a new wellness-location to the map of present-day China. The hot spring resort is located 50 kilometres west of Mianyang, the second largest city in Sichuan Province, well known in China as the birthplace of the famous eighth-century-poet Li Bai. The resort is located at the northwest end of the Sichuan Basin, which is bordered by a huge range of the Himalayan Mountains. The Luofu Mountain, in the foothills of the Himalayas to the north of the site, stands out against the otherwise relatively flat surroundings.
The central spa facilities are organised around a small hill with detached buildings united by a connecting roof. Several outdoor pools offer a variety of sensations, with different concentrations of minerals in the water or different temperatures intensifying the experience in the monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate of the region.
Some of the pools are rectangular, some are designed with an organic layout, some have a sheltering roof, others are open to the sky. By moving around in the spa landscape, transitioning between indoors and outdoors, the vistas change and open up to the valley and the mountains nearby.
The different functions, including restaurant, tearoom, conference room, bar, sauna, gym and hot spa, are layered on three floors, resulting in a very complex overall form at the heart of the spa landscape. The building’s orientation towards all four cardinal directions and the spatial openings and open circulation around the hill and through the pools, offer many views across the landscape near and far. As the trees grow, the buildings will soon disappear into the surrounding landscape park.
For the interior design the architects used natural materials like wood for the ceiling, built-in-cupboards and floor, which is partly covered by rugs. Much of the furniture was custom-made for the project.
The materials reflect the buildings’ close relationship to the surrounding countryside. Part of the walls are made from clay mixed with pebbles, or stained timber. However, the core material is a local river stone, a terrazzo-like conglomeration of pebbles shaped over time by water. After cutting the material into slabs, the pebbles come to light in various sizes and different shades of natural colours. This stone was used indoors and outdoors for flooring, pools, seats and benches, water canals, landscape walls and even as inserts into the concrete of the roads.
The delicate spa estate and its rich landscape were very well integrated into the given conditions. This was made possible by the cooperation with local craftsmen and the incorporation of their knowledge into the final building process.
But the project also needed an enlightened client and smart architects to achieve high quality in spatial and material terms. Now the guests just have to relax and appreciate it, and the operator has to maintain its good condition.
AIM Architecture, Shanghai
Wendy Saunders, Vincent de Graaf, Leonardo Colluci, Allan Yang, Claudia Juhre, Zoe Zhu, June Deng, Andrew Irwin, Shelley Mock, Dongker, Liat Goldman, Ted Zhang
24 000 sqm
350 million RMB
Cooperating Persons / Engineers
Hua Heng Institute
Hui Yi Decoration & Design Co. Ltd, Yasha Industrial Park Development Co. Ltd
Architecture and Furniture Hardware
Champion Creative Furniture, Matzform, Glorta Carpets
Floor and Walls Covering (material/product/supplier)
Uni Wood. Merbau floor
Pool & SPA Equipment (material/product/supplier)
Dai Si Le Pools, SAWO Sauna
Sanitary equipment (material/product/supplier)
Mechanical equipment (material/product/supplier)
Fantastic planner & Co., Ltd