Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Thorpe ‘the lifehouse’ Spa in Essex, UK by The Manser Practice
May 27th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: The Manser Practice
The Lifehouse is probably the first completely new purpose built residential spa in the UK since the Romans were here.
The Lifehouse Spa is a 90 bedroom residential spa built on the site of Thorpe Hall in Thorpe le Soken, Essex, set in Grade 1 Listed gardens and with artificial lakes laid out around the original house in 1913.
The gardens and the remaining out houses, stables and kitchen garden walls, with a series of formal and informal vistas, influenced the layout of the new spa with a selection of three principal linked buildings creating a range of courtyards of varying size and intimacy.
As the gardens had been laid out around the original three storey house an early decision was taken to locate the bedrooms in two parallel three storey blocks; one on the site of the original house and the other 20 metres to the south with one of the existing major vistas running between the two.
The two bedroom blocks are linked by a light weight fully glazed single storey link – also on an axis and this, together with the existing and refurbished stable block, creates the first of a series of courtyards which, using the vistas, create a constant series of varying views and vistas from inside the spa linking the interior to the formal and less formal landscaping.
The front entrance to the spa is between the bedroom blocks and the main body of the building in a two storey 50,000 sq ft rectangle with pools, 70 treatment rooms, gym, bar restaurant and relaxation rooms and all the back of house facilities.
This building, buried up to two metres into the ground to reduce its impact on the landscape has a series of internal vistas along circulation routes linking into and giving both close and distant views to the exterior.
Treatment rooms on the first floor are arranged around small enclosed courtyards reinforcing the important connection between the inside and outside daylight.
The simple bedroom blocks are white rendered with painted steel balustrades to Velfac dark painted French door Juliet balconies.
The main spa building is clad in dark stained rough sawn timber with an expressed composite concrete and steel frame. Glazing is generally frameless shuffle fit.
The centre of the main spa building is an atrium forming, on both floors, the ‘hub’ of the spa and from where the corridors radiate in line with and with views of the external axes. Ground floor ‘treatments,’ with the exception of the gym, are wet – with a series of pools, steam and salt rooms, whilst the first floor treatment rooms are generally dry.
The Manser Practice were responsible for both the architecture and the interior design on a project which, from beginning to completion took over ten years.
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