Chiara Del Core 14 mar 2019 Articles 0 comments

4 - Spatial distribution

Spas and wellness centers are places of relaxation and pleasure and this is the concept that must guide the entire design process. It should be remembered that the arrangement of the internal space defines the entire experience of the user. For this reason, together with all the lighting, acoustics and design elements, it is extremely important for the proper functioning of the structure.
During the preliminary phase, it is necessary to estimate the expected flows of users, distinguishing them by gender and age group. In this specific case, the analysis has a greater weight since a different relationship is created between users as we find ourselves in a more intimate situation, in a closed environment and with few personal clothes.
The study of interpersonal relationships is crucial for the distribution of spaces and for the choice of furnishing accessories. In fact, it is necessary to keep the right distances between people who will not find themselves having to face unpleasant embarrassments.
For example, the parking spaces must be capacious and comply with the times foreseen during the wellness path, while the sessions must ensure a minimum distance of 60 cm between one seat and another.
The functions must be correctly distributed, without however imposing a defined path, to be carried out in set times, since the visitor must feel free to live the experience without constraints. It is necessary to provide a real sensorial experience thanks to which one can abandon oneself to rest without thoughts.
Starting from the entrance to the structure, the customer must be welcomed in a pleasant, clean and attention to detail environment. This is the first sensation that must amaze and above all strike the visitor who, in this way, will want to return. This is how the design does not remain an end in itself but is useful and pleasant at the same time, ensuring a profit also in economic terms. The next area is that of the changing rooms: being perhaps the most intimate place in the entire spa, it is necessary to provide all the ancillary services, constantly guaranteeing privacy. In this environment there are usually lockers with security system, proportionate to the flow of people expected in the structure, comfortable seats for changing the person, washbasins with mirrors and accessories for drying hair, showers and toilets.
In the following phase the real wellness path begins; the dimensions of the components of the Spa depend on the spatial availability of the structure. Sauna, turkish bath, whirlpools, water courses, emotional and similar showers, must be distributed in order to facilitate free movement and use without pre-established rules and times. There must be no obstacles to the use of the equipment and accessibility by all must be guaranteed. In this regard, like many places for the community, even wellness centers must adapt as much as possible to the regulations on disability.
Precisely because psycho-physical health is everyone's right, the structures must provide access ramps, large entrances, services and changing rooms with showers of adequate size and elevators in case of multi-storey distribution.
At the end of the path, you will find the relaxation rooms, where you can have a rest on chaise longues or sofas while sipping on a herbal tea.
It is therefore essential to ensure the correct distribution of the rooms to guarantee freedom of movement and consequent well-being. The attention to detail, the functional but at the same time aesthetic choice, characterize the foundations for the success of a Spa and its success over the years.

Distribution scheme of the functional rooms of a hypothetical Spa
Source: Global Wellness Institute “Guide to Hydrothermal Spa Development Standard”

5 - Material choices

As for the choice of materials, inside the Spa it is essential that they resist the action of water, humidity and vapors. Furthermore, long-lasting materials are indicated, in anticipation of frequent and diversified use. Since these environments must guarantee maximum hygiene, it is important that surface cleaning is simple and practical.
Here are some of the materials most used in today's spas.


It is used for the construction of prefabricated panels which will constitute the structure of the wet rooms under analysis. These are insulating elements that are coated with concrete and reinforced with fiberglass on both sides. The choice is dictated by the optimal performance of this type of material which is able to resist humidity by preventing the formation of mold and corrosion. Furthermore, the insulating properties and the ease of on-site assembly make it a perfect solution. 


Used in the construction of sauna cabins and in the furnishings of the relaxation rooms, it is a material available on the market in various finishes.
As for the sauna blocks, the internal and external walls are both made of strictly natural wood. Since it is an environment where the temperature range is very high, it is not possible to use any type of le-gname but only qualities capable of adapting to temperature changes. An example is Nordic fir which is used for the manufacture of Finnish saunas with a more rustic appearance.
Canadian hemlock is very different from fir, a more precious wood with a warm color, also used in saunas. What looks like one of the oldest materials existing in nature, is also used in the interior furnishings of the wellness center, especially in relaxation rooms where the humidity rate is lower than in other rooms. For example, it is easy to find chaise longues and deckchairs in untreated wood, with sinuous shapes that allow a peaceful break in a harmonious and natural environment.


Stone is the material that is most used in this type of structure because it has the suitable properties and evokes the natural environment. Starting with floors and coverings, up to seats and shelves, stone is a versatile material that resists high temperatures and humidity. Available commercially in various colors and types, it is able to give the environment a natural appearance, integrating well with other materials used such as glass and ceramic.


It is a substance widely used for the coating of walls and floors inside spas. The tiles must be non-slip on the walking surfaces to ensure user safety.
Ceramic materials are also widely used because they are easily sanitized. The smooth surface in fact facilitates maintenance and the joints between one tile and the other are hermetically sealed to prevent the formation of bacteria. Finally, the availability of various finishes on the market allows the choice of products that adapt well to each specific project.


They are widely used because they have numerous advantages over other materials such as marble, ceramic and terracotta; in fact they are very resistant, water-repellent and ecological. In addition, there are countless variations on the market that allow you to achieve excellent results aimed at emulating wood, stone and marble.


Natural textile fibers are used in furnishing accessories, in the seats of the relaxation rooms and in the beds intended for wellness treatments, since they are less exposed to the action of water and vapors. The fabrics must be breathable and pleasant to the touch.

6 - Technological innovation

Nowadays, the solutions used in spas and wellness centers are constantly evolving, but what really matters is that the new technology is always functional and guarantees accessibility to a rich and varied user. In fact, sometimes in these spaces there are tools and services designed to amaze and give suggestive experiences to the visitor, at the expense of true functionality. For this reason, it is important to conceive the technological component as an integrated aspect that meets the needs of the user, so that it contributes to making the project human-sized.
In a constantly changing society, it is necessary to adopt an organic attitude, which considers various aspects and which is shaped by the needs of the end user taking into account the new means and innovative materials at the service of the designer.
In this regard, there are some new solutions applied to devices used in wellness facilities, which thanks to innovation improve the psycho-physical comfort of the person.
Regarding hydrotherapy treatments:

  • MICROSILK thousands of oxygen-rich micro bubbles are produced which, delivered by a jet, penetrate the pores regenerating the skin and moisturizing it
  • HYDRO PLUS uses pumps with innovative performance that guarantee the best whirlpool available on the market today
  • V-JET allows you to customize the hydrotherapy treatment by choosing countless different jet combinations

Furthermore, there is no lack of technological solutions aimed at involving and thrilling the user:

  • DOCKING STATION connected to internal speakers in sauna and Turkish bath, allows you to spread sounds and music. In the case of domestic environments, thanks to the dedicated App it is possible to select personalized and predefined playlists.
  • AIR STAM SYSTEM delivery of flavored vapors that mix evenly in the air, avoiding differentiation and improving the quality of the steam.
  • CHANGING RAINFALL HAND SHOWER system that combines colors with the water temperature: blue light = cold water, red light = hot water, green light = warm water. It is also possible to use this technology in a domestic environment by simply applying it to the shower siphon.

Technology must be considered added value and aid, what matters is that you never lose control of the functionality of the services and the relative cost. The initial costs but above all the maintenance costs are in fact a primary element of the Business Plan which must always precede the design process.

7 - Energy saving

As just mentioned, the case of spas and large wellness centers is particularly complicated in terms of costs and management over time. This is because the machines used in this type of environment require enormous quantities of energy and are therefore very expensive. Fortunately, in recent years, the market has been moving towards research and innovation, introducing structures capable of recovering part of the energy consumed.
These are complex systems that are not yet widespread and well-known but which could solve the problem of expensive maintenance costs. In addition, some precautions would be enough, from the first design stages, to improve the basic conditions of the structure: an architectural envelope designed to maximize energy performance and thus reduce costs, systems that use sustainable solutions such as photovoltaic or solar thermal, materials cologici and innovative technologies.
However, if a project wants to be sustainable it must not be sustainable only from an energy and economic point of view; the environment in which it is located is to be considered the basis on which to implement the design choices.
In order to insert the Spa in a coherent context, it is necessary to carry out a careful analysis of the territory, the characteristics and needs of future users.
The physical conformation of the structure must follow the archetype of the area as much as possible, the materials used should be local, the services offered must then respond to the particular needs of the place, reflecting if possible the specific traditions.


In recent years, the so-called Bio Spas have spread, structures shaped on the principles of sustainability considered at 360 °. Powered by photovoltaic systems and solutions that use renewable resources, they blend in harmony with the context. Often the management of this type of center is entrusted to cost-conscious software and capable of keeping water and energy consumption under constant monitoring over time. The materials used for the construction of the Spas and for the internal furnishings of the same, are biological and environmentally friendly and whenever possible they are found on site. This, to reduce costs and pollution caused by transport and processing.
Sometimes the internal arrangement can follow the principles of feng shui, an ancient Chinese tradition according to which through a specific arrangement of buildings and their internal structure, it would be possible to achieve psycho-physical well-being by avoiding negative energies.
It is a theory that today divides the opinion of experts and designers very much but which in some cases is embraced and adopted in the creation of living spaces and environments intended for relaxation. If inside there are additional services such as catering, the products are almost always 0 km and organic and the menus are attentive to the needs of a very free user.
Di seguito vengono riportati due esempi italiani di Bio Spa;

Bio Spa Carèra, Rota d'Imagna (Bergamo)

Located in the landscape of the Imagna Valley, in the Bergamo area, it constitutes a real oasis of relaxation surrounded by nature. The structure, an integral part of the Hotel Miramonti in Rota d'Imagna, fits into the context, shaping its spaces according to the curvilinear course of the valley. The rooms, spread over two floors, host relaxation areas, kenipp, saunas, turkish bath and emotional showers. On the ground floor there is the swimming pool equipped with hydromassage jets that connects the internal environment to the external one creating a continuum between nature and built space. It is also possible to admire the suggestive panorama of the valley from the terrace - solarium. The materials used for the construction of the center are natural and mainly represented by stone and wood.
The path includes the services of traditional spas but with a particular focus on sustainability: for example, all the products used for cosmetic treatments are organic.

View of the structure surrounded by greenery and photos of the hydro-massage pool between inside and outside
Source:  /  

Naturalis Bio Spa, Martano (Lecce)

The structure is immersed in a landscape of unspoiled nature, inside an ancient and completely renovated barn. The Spa is part of the Naturalis Bio Resort accommodation complex which offers attentive services to the visitor's well-being and where you can enjoy the suggestive panorama of a country village dating back to the 17th century.
The wellness center features a large hydromassage pool with a salt-water bath, a Turkish bath and various emotional showers. Characteristic is the hammam inserted in the limestone rock, where it is possible to make direct contact with local nature.
The treatments are designed to be 100% organic, using only 0 km products such as wheat, olive oil and aloe.
In the lounge area you can taste the typical products of this area, thanks to the presence of cultivated land, close to the structure.

View of the outdoor swimming pool surrounded by greenery and photos of the indoor swimming pool at the old barn
Source:  /                     

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