Switzerland is a place defined by many scales. From raw concrete homes and majestic museums to reimagined chalets, the country’s architecture reflects the diversity of its landscapes. With numerous thermal springs and known for traditions of lifestyle, health and personal care, Switzerland is home to many different types of wellness retreats built at multiple scales. These iconic spaces represent both contemporary trends in Swiss design and new cultural approaches to leisure and health.
From light, airy halls to cool, dark escapes chiseled into mountains, the following Swiss wellness retreats are designed as sensory experiences. With a shared vein of programming, the projects have a wide range of approaches to materiality, circulation and views. While there is a wellness history in the region dating back before the Romans, new ideas are emerging on the shape, form and function of these spaces. Engaging with history by reinterpreting it, the designs build on past techniques to reinvent them.
The Therme Vals is a hotel and spa that combines a complete sensory experience. One of the most iconic wellness retreats built in Switzerland, this minimalist concrete retreat was built over the only thermal springs in the Graubunden Canton.
The team created their design around the concept of “meander” wherein negative space between the blocks that connects everything as it flows throughout the entire building. The result is a peaceful and almost meditative rhythm built into the spatial experience. The team explored many ideas and themes around the combination of mountain, stone and water: building in the stone, building with the stone, building into the mountain, building out of the mountain, and being inside the mountain.
This building, dedicated to wellness, was designed to be a sensory experience next to Geneva Lake. Located in a park with outdoor pools that are open only during summer, it allows the complex and the area to stay active throughout the year.
The Wellness Center comprises indoor and outdoor pools, a hammam and a spa circuit, relaxation areas, two cafés and a panoramic terrace with a splendid view on the lake and the Jura Mountains. Prefabrication plays a major role in this design; the choice of mineral-like façade has been specifically conceived to integrate the building in the Genève-Plage Landmark.
Originally built in 1911, the Hotel de Sonloup has been towering on the hilltops above Les Avants for over one century. The project has spectacular views to the surrounding landscape, overlooking Montreux and the Leman Lake, and is accessible by a purpose-built funicular.
RDR architects were brought on board to create a new type of establishment, a modern-day version of the original mountain wellness center, combining the amenities of a 5 star hotel with the clinical and spa facilities of a world class rehabilitation clinic. The existing hotel was fully gutted and re-built from the inside out.
This retreat was built in conjunction with Milstone Sarl — a business unit Glasswood and an official partner of DAVINCI HAUS GmbH & Co. The company’s designs are often pre-manufactured in Germany and assembled onsite by DAVINCI German workers, allowing a better idea on budget, quality and construction timing.
Aiming to regular incorporate sustainable practices, the projects by Milstone Sarl utilize green technology and a high level of energy efficiency combined with premium materials. Often, these take the form of a wood structure with large glazing surface to feel the warmth of nature inside a living space or interior.
An indoor swimming pool, spa and sports centre forms a temple-like facility in the St. Moritz Kurpark, with its pristine façade made of a crisp white concrete. Changing rooms are situated on the ground floor, while the indoor swimming baths, including a 25-metre pool, a diving pool, a learners’ pool, a paddling pool, a fun tower, a restaurant and an outdoor pool are all accommodated on the 1st floor. The spa level is intimately concealed in the top floor. In strategic places, the window areas provide a view of the mountain landscape.
Chenot Palace Weggis was designed for human well-being. Framed by the Alps and overlooking Lake Lucerne, the project includes the renovation of existing hotel buildings, the addition of a new guest room block and a state-of-the-art medical spa. The view of the property from the lake remains unchanged from before the new development, while timber cladding of the new elements creates a material landscape embedded in the green gardens. The result is a project that marries the complex old hotel buildings through a new language and simplicity in materials.
The new Bürgenstock Hotel forms the heart and the central attraction of the Bürgenstock Resort. The building blends in naturally between the Hotel Palace and the Bürgenstock SPA and is aligned to the north towards Lucerne. The design concept for the new hotel and its interior is based on scenes from legendary films.
The new hotel sits prominently on the Bürgenstock rock, 875 metres above sea level. The façade is clad in pale Sellenberg limestone and rises like a skyscraper above the glass base. The stone’s grey-brown appearance is similar to the natural Bürgenstock rock. The materialization of the façade picks up the themes of the hotel’s historical background while complementing these with modern design. From a distance, the building appears to be carved out of the rock.