location: Hinterbrühl, Lower Austria
size: 175 m²
photos: Dimitar Gamizov/smartvoll
The term “wellness temple” is the common marketing word for hotel basement bathrooms with palm tree decoration. Smartvoll architects have built a private temple complex of the 21st century. At first glance, it doesn’t even look like it is dedicated to the wellness cult.
The Wellness Pavilion is located at the end of the park opposite an old villa, similar to the purposelessly adorning Gloriette at Schönbrunn Palace. The floor plan is reminiscent of paintings by Mondrian. Smartvoll architects have translated his formal compression of early modernism into the third dimension. The pavilion consists of apparently free-standing monolithic slabs and is thus somewhat reminiscent of Stonehenge or Greek temple ruins, of which only geometric arrangements of free-standing columns have survived.
Like a sculpture, the Wellness Pavilion consists of a single material. Rauriser quartzite is a natural stone that can withstand steam, chlorine, sauna heat and winter frost without damage. The vertical slabs do not look like walls, the horizontal ones do not look like roofs. This impression is created because the walls pierce and protrude above the ceiling tiles to repel any support. The consequence of this design is that the roof elements seem to float. In the rectangular three-dimensional grid, the stone slabs do not appear as if they were assembled, but rather placed one against the other.
The functions find their place between the parallel, staggered stone slabs. Each and every of them is oriented and connected with an outdoor area and given a distinct quality. The pavilion is open in three directions, all interior and exterior spaces flow into each other. In summer, no more open building could be imagined, allowing for wandering in one continuous outdoor feeling space. In winter, the glass surfaces concealed in the wall and ceiling panels slide in front of and over the pavilion. The composition of the slabs to each other is preventing any line of sight from curious neighbors, and at any time of year you can stroll unclothed between the jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna, shower, pool, sunbathing area and bar.
The labyrinthine, nested floor plan differentiates surprising spatial qualities in a structure of stone monuments, which are not subordinated to a functional idea, but are allowed to stand for themselves with their own being and their own meaning.