Pallavi Dean of creative practice Roar pays an ode to Asian architecture in her design of this serene spa in Dubai

MAY 10, 2021 | By Pallavi Dean
(L-R) A bespoke waiting bench offsets the floral wall mural; A custom Corian washbasin with Gessi pebble faucets dots the treatment room and is highlighted by the Cleds 4 light; Detail of Gessi’s Equilibrio pebble faucet; Photographs by Oculis Project

The Sensasia Stories Spa at the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Dubai unfolds like a soulful hymn and is a haven of respite and tranquillity. The brief was clear: To not just design a spa that looks good but also create an experience that feels unforgettable.

So, for the Pan Asian brand of bespoke spas, I turned to the architectural typology of varied regions of the continent, including Thailand, Bali and Vietnam, for inspiration.

The bolon flooring clad women’s spa courtyard is illuminated with the help of 5m high LED arches in mesh detail; Photographs by Oculis Project

The consequential aesthetic of the venue is a modern, contemporary version, which is a tribute to all of these cultures. The 4,000 sq ft space is layered with textures and illuminating drama, responding to all senses alike.

This nook in the spa features a cushy seating arrangement, upholstered in Carnegie fabric; Photographs by Oculis Project

It houses eight treatment rooms and an express spa, each of which is agile and flexible. We created three architectural statements. First of them are the 5m high, illuminated arches that dominate the men’s and women’s courtyards for a theatrical finish.

Pivot wooden doors separate the express treatment area that’s clad in bronze-toned walls and Mirodec glass; Photographs by Oculis Project

The next is the parametric form that dots the shop front to lure window shoppers in from the mall. And finally, the material palette, which is replete with brown-hued bolon flooring, grey basalt stone, slate, exposed concrete paint and hessian finishes, lend the spa good acoustics and a soothing appeal.

Seen here is a women’s treatment room with display shelves and a spa bed in Carnegie fabric that looks up to the dramatic custom bronze i-mesh ceiling; Photographs by Oculis Project

Considering its location, the spa receives no natural light, so we worked with a consultant to give the space just the right amount and type of illumination.

Parametrically designed retail arches in rose gold finish are spotted near the reception; Photographs by Oculis Project

To add some drama, for example, strip led lights were attached to the arches. we also celebrated the ceilings, which are often neglected but we figured that in a spa, you spend a lot of the time on your back! So we clad the ceiling with a gorgeous bronze i-mesh structure!

LED-lit steps lead to the plunge pool with ice fountain and mini rock garden in the women’s spa bath; Photographs by Oculis Project