This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award and Popular Choice Award in the Health Care + Aging category. See the full list of winners here.
A lackluster pool is like a bad cheesecake. If it fails to supply delight and escape, its existence just seems pointless. The Hotel Castell dels Hams, on the Spanish island of Majorca, had a pool problem. Though it was housed in a glass and aluminum shell, "the pool was dark and thermally worked quite badly with a lot of heat loss through this enclosure," writes architect Cristian Santandreu, whose firm Estudio A2arquitectos revamped the swimming situation—and added an adjacent spa—in 2011. The architects' splashy new design wowed our A+ judges and our readers, garnering both the jury prize and the popular vote in the Health Care + Aging category of the A+ Awards.
The pool's new wrapper is punctured with square windows and skylights on three sides (plus the roof). With all that light bouncing off the water and the pool floor, guests get a hint of topsy-turviness, as though they are swimming on the ceiling. Meanwhile, the really committed sunbathers can try for a geometric suntan!
To keep the punctured walls open to natural light, the architects oriented the new spa building to intersect with the pool at a single point. The pool's skylights pop out onto a green roof, creating a glass-mounded landscape that reminds us of the Städel Museum lawn—itself a special mention in the A+ Museums category.
The puncture theme continues in the new spa. Small square skylights fitted with colored filters stream different wavelengths of light into the various treatment areas—green for the relaxation zone, red for the Jacuzzi. "This makes the building itself part of the treatment, offering the feeling of well-being created by nature when it is introduced into the building, a feeling of total immersion for the visitor," explain the designers.
The new spa (left) and pool enclosure.
Photos: courtesy of A2 Arquitectos