Mario Botta’s Swiss Mountain Oasis lifts body, mind and architecture to new levels
It’s Switzerland’s answer to Bath Spa – with a few differences. It serves the same sybaritic devotion to bodily wellbeing, and its architecture is no less inspired – although in this case, it pays homage not to classical Georgian architecture, but to Alpine snow, water, light and air. And as you might expect from the home of accurate timekeeping, this spa has arrived punctually and opens next week.
The name of this resort is the £15m five-star Tschuggen Mountain Oasis, and prices for a night vary between £160 and £1600. It is built at an altitude of 1800m in Arosa, eastern Switzerland. The architect is the Italian-Swiss Mario Botta, whose reputation was made with a string of churches and chapels, as well as a synagogue and a cathedral. According to Botta, this spa also aspires to the sacred.
Indeed, sacred undertones are evident in nine gothic-arched spires that pop out of the roof. At night they form a cluster of oversized lanterns amid the snowy slopes. In the day they scoop daylight to the grotto below, which is certainly not of the twee Santa variety. Stretching through the grotto are swimming and paddling pools of pure spa water enclosed within walls of rough-hewn granite.
Daylight splashes down from the light scoops, while electric underfloor lights glow seductively through the water. The massive granite walls are disciplined and rectangular in places to match the triangular timber ceiling panels, although elsewhere they ripple like a parade of elephant legs.
While its visitors cultivate their bodies and spirits, this building cultivates space, light, spa water and natural stone. In doing so, it rises to higher, more ethereal plane of architecture.