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Can architecture be part of the wellness experience?

Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London architecture

At this year’s Global Wellness Summit, lots of interesting topics, predictions and trends were raised when it comes to wellness. Amongst them, was the role of architecture.

It’s not new to think that a beautifully designed space can have a profound impact on how we feel. A sense of space, natural light, organic materials - the multi sensory experience of going to a spa encompasses all of those things. However, we are more and more aware of the nuances within architecture and design that affect how we feel, and the prediction is for a move from ostentatious fads to architecture that touches our souls.

Veronica Schreibeis Smith, Founding Principal, Vera Iconica Architecture and Developments said:

“In recent years, cross-disciplinary studies demonstrated the connection between the built environment and our physical health and wellbeing. In 2021, look for spaces designed to make sacred and numinous moments part of our consciousness and wellbeing.  The power of this trend is the move from ostentatious fads and always-on consumerism to architecture that touches our souls. These “thin places” are an entirely new way to nurture spirituality and connect with our deeper selves.”

Three architecturally inspiring spas

Shangri La London - sky spa pool

Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

One can hardly say its a move away from ostentatiousness, but Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London is certainly architecturally inspiring. Located on level 34 of London’s iconic Shard building, it soars to 125 metres high and occupies 18 floors. t has panoramic views overlooking the River Thames and the rooftops of London, and floor-to-ceiling windows let in an abundance of natural light. The cherry on top is the aptly named infinity sky pool in the spa.

Glass House Retreat

Glass House Retreat, Essex

A spa covering all aspects of wellbeing from fitness to relaxation and nutrition, Glass House Retreat is eco friendly, filled with natural light, adult-only and dedicated to the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet. The design is all about large windows and understated luxury, bringing the outside in thanks to the views, it is a purpose-built wellness destination that straddles the line between technological innovation and holistic wellbeing.


Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, County Antrim

This long standing favourite spa destination has mastered the art of combining the natural world with the best of contemporary spa experiences. The spa is described as a thermal village, and it includes some unique experiences. Not least, the River House for classes, which is raised on stilts with views over the cascading River Maine, so you can meditate to the flowing water. Another favourite feature is the ‘Beltane Experience’, where you relax around a sunken fire with friends before enjoying a dip in the 12 person outdoor hot tub.


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