Wellness Center, Bologna Italy, 2015
The Wellness Center is organized around the notion of retreat. The building is an architectural expression of bodily disconnection from everyday life, and from our typical modes of sensory experience. A new colonnade outlines the site and echoes the famous porticos of Bologna and signifies the act of stepping out of the civic experience, into an intimate encounter with one’s own senses. Between the new colonnade and the existing structure is a lush garden, a densified wilderness that perceptually separates the inner realm of retreat from the civic realm on the other side. As one enters the brick preparation building, showers, lockers, a shop, and staff facilities prepare the visitor for his routine. Exiting this facility to the former warehouse, the visitor encounters a collection of platonic objects gathered around the “soak”, a pool that serves as the datum that ties the experiences together and as a cleanse between sensory experiences. The pavilions gathered around the pool and in the lush garden reconnect the user with specific sensory extremes and strange juxtapositions rather than programmatic simplicities. The lush garden cleanses the user’s palate as one proceeds from one pavilion to another, heightening senses through contrast.