Therme Bad AIbling
Bad Aibling, a small town 60 km southeast of Munich and home to the oldest ‘moor’ spa in Bavaria, has complemented its existing leisure facilities with a new spa baths, which include wellness areas and outdoor swimming pools. The new baths are to provide an attractive health-oriented focus for both the local community and the region, very much in the tradition of the town. From the beginning of the project, the client based the concept on the special characteristics of the ‘cabinet’. The idea was not to create a loud, large bathing hall but rather a bath with different sections that would allow for a range of moods, spatial impressions and bathing experiences. The site is located on the edge of the town centre near one of the streams that criss-cross through the town – in an exposed location in the south with an unhindered view of the nearby mountain range, the Bavarian limestone alps. The conditions presented by the different functional areas result in a clear, logical structuring of the site. The sauna area has been extended towards the south and integrated into the existing structures. The area surrounding the spa has been topographically landscaped and curves upwards – sometimes gently undulating, at other times a rugged slope – to a height of up to 6 m. As a result, the outdoor swimming pool is set on the same level as the roof of the building – in the prominent position of a belvedere with a view across the bath towards the mountains. This modelled landscape “flows` quasi through the spa. The dome cabinets seem to be embedded within it like washed up stones – for the most part loosely arranged, yet at the same time closely interwoven in a complex mesh of relationships made up of energy aspects, static requirements and the needs of the spa guests. The wooden roof of the Wintergarten with its large glazed sections is stretched between the domes, providing protection from the weather and giving the spa the appearance of a continuous, unbroken unit from the changing cubicles to the Triftbach river. At first sight, the different demands made of the bathing hall seem almost to contradict one another: on the one hand there is the intense bathing experience, on the other a contemplative space for relaxation. And in addition, the aim is to link the differing functions via the bathing hall. The design concept for the domes breaks the pattern set by the complex specifications profile. The bathing activities are concentrated in the strictly zoned and acoustically structured dome areas. In the space between, areas have been created that contrast with the movement of the bathing hall and are accentuated by discrete differences in level, changes in the materials, and spatial limitations. Relaxation areas with loungers have been created – in the shelter of the vaults of the dome and the luscious vegetation, yet with a view of the bathing hall and the open countryside. The interior and exterior areas of the spa merge with one another and the glass facade of the hall is scarcely perceptible because it is connected on both sides to wooden platforms, flower-beds and terraces with sun loungers. The domes characterize the spa with their archaic, monolithic shapes. In the interior of the more or less closed dome areas, the materials used, the entry of light, and the direction of the light create differentiated atmospheres that aim to enhance the desired bathing experience. The ‘dome of experience’ is equipped with a wide range of water attractions. Here, the water is revealed in its full dynamic nature and mechanical strength - whirling, gurgling, at times with an almost deafening rushing sound. This lively area of the spa is covered by a dome with a strong blue colour. The daylight enters through a few, de-central openings and wanders steadily along the wall of the dome and across the water surface. In the spa dome the water seems to be in tune with the natural environment. Stylized, glowing reeds “grow` out of the surface of the water while lush, proliferous plants divert the view into the garden. In the sensuous dome, the spa visitor finds a tranquil atmosphere and can float to the accompaniment of underwater music while dozens of small openings in the roof of the dome reflect a play of light on the water below. In the centre of the space, an almost cylindrical volume appears to hover above the water like an oversized “Laterna Magica.` With its illuminated ornamentation, it adds to the contemplative appearance of the dome. Inside the glowing volume is a steam bath. The atmosphere in the dome is created by the contrast of light and dark, spaciousness and intimacy. In contrast to the solid concrete dome, the hot-and-cold dome is covered by a translucent, printed plexi-glass dome. Contrasting spaces are positioned vis-à-vis – hot and cold water in red and blue pools. The relaxation dome appears as a dark room, in which the spa visitor can retire to relax. Large moving images of artificial worlds are projected on the ceiling and transform the peaceful surroundings into a unique “multi-media cave.` The beauty–wellness area in the beauty dome provides an additional service and is used by both external visitors who enter via the entrance hall and by the visitors who enter via the spa. Other domes accommodate a hamam and a moor bath which follows in the footsteps of the long tradition of Bad Aibling as a therapeutic moor spa. The sauna can be accessed via the central entrance hall and via the spa. The multi-facetted sauna area has been partly built anew and is partly a continuation of the existing buildings. The outdoor warm-water baths in the sauna garden form the centre of the facility around which various different sauna facilities, a diving pool and experiential showers are grouped. On the upper floor, beneath the wide roof of the existing building there is a large quiet area with a roof garden and solariums.

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