Making Room for Nature | A Journey Within
We have found that the most visionary destinations are realized when considered holistically from the very beginning. Putting wellness front and center can help craft and deepen the story, creating a location-centric vocabulary that heightens and harmonizes the guest’s experiential journey. We’re increasingly interested in designing hotels and resorts that act as a base for exploring idyllic natural environments, with an understanding that guests will be looking to hotels as portals to experience and catalysts to positive transformation.
For a recent design competition, we conceived of a series of adaptable healing spaces – Zomes – designed to awaken guests’ inner worlds while celebrating the culture, character, and soulful spirit of Portugal.
Like the sacred geometry of the special ritual mandala, zomes belong to a family of geometric shapes, composed of diamond forms arranged within a double spiral, which is said to resemble the pineal gland cone, the third eye, also known as the door of consciousness. Incorporating a form of sacred geometry into a personal refuge where guests might feel oneness with the living world and cultivate a deeper sense of self, we made nature the project’s key reference point and visual anchor.
Nature has a profound effect on health and healing and functions as the project’s key reference point and visual anchor. The Zomes are nestled in the Serra de Estrela mountains, where guests can absorb the healing effects of nature and recalibrate the mind-body connection within a private space.
Our proposed master plan begins the guest journey at an arbor entryway, leading towards a communal seating area that surrounds a fire pit. A waterway flows alongside the pathway leading to the Zome, immersing guests in the rhythmical sounds of water, this meandering pathway to the Zome is what allows guests to synchronize with nature and ground themselves before arriving.
Sustainability features include a natural material palette of local stone, wood, and painted mosaics. The translucent rooftop translucent photovoltaic solar panels filter natural light and power the structure, along with a water harvesting system with cistern storage for irrigation. Considering the area’s mild climate, the Zomes are situated for optimal cross ventilation for abundant fresh air. “Every aspect of the design is intended to connect the user to the natural environment, from the arrival experience to the form of the architecture. We wanted each user to be able to interpret the natural environment in a fully immersive experience, engaging every sense.” Harris Christiaansen, Vice President, SB Architects.
The Zomes are designed to dissolve the boundary between the site and guests, creating a numinous moment that elevates consciousness and deliberately blurs the boundaries between the natural world and the sacred realm.
Through our collaboration with TLEE Spas, we have created a wellness-focused concept, designed to enrich the end-user experience while enhancing both their physical and emotional wellbeing. “We were delighted to collaborate with SB Architects on this special project, integrating the healing power of nature with the transformational power of intentional design, to meet our collective desire to find deeper meaning and purpose.” Michael Lahm, TLEE Spas.