Le Spa des Saules, Illhaeusern

Designed by: Jouin Manku
For client: Baumann family Floor area: 700.00 M² Year of completion: 2016
Nominated for: Health Club of the Year

Le Spa De Saules
© Nicolas Mathéus

Here guests find an extraordinary object, a hot stone made of concrete. The organic forms of this monumental sculpture were poured in situ. It can be used as a chair for relaxing in or as an object to place one’s hands on and benefit from the radiant heat.

About the Project

Illhaeusern, Alsace. Just 600 inhabitants. A small village on the banks of a gently flowing river, a bucolic picture postcard from eastern France. In 2016, Danielle and Marco Baumann decided to extend their hotel’s capacity and to equip the Hôtel des Berges with a new annexe, the Spa des Saules. Architecture and interior design were entrusted to Jouin Manku, in collaboration with Silvio Rauseo. By way of a brief, the two designers were given carte blanche to design a place for rest and relaxation, a complete break, where time is suspended.

What’s unique about it

The ambition was to equip the Hôtel des Berges with a spa and meditation space that would allow guests to get the most from this oasis of calm at the heart of the Alsatian countryside. This is how Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku came to imagine a space ‘of one’s dreams’, a new building of a simple, pared-back design, ideal for enjoying a moment of wellbeing and total relaxation. There are just five Junior Suites, ensuring the calm environment is preserved, a mineral spa, whose treatments are inspired by the Roman baths of the region, and a ‘multi-faith chapel’, a space ideally suited for a spiritual retreat. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku took the fairly radical decision to pare back the design, to keep just the essential, removing any superficial detail or ornamentation from the project. An authentic simplicity, and meditation, are the project’s key themes. Architecture and interior design had to reflect these directional ideas.

© Nicolas Mathéus

Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku designed the annexe by drawing inspiration from the timber frames of the Alsace region’s vast old barns.

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© Nicolas Mathéus

The building’s oak frame also extends to cover and screen the pool even when you are outside. The willow leaf motif is featured, carved into the timber frames of the beds in the relaxation room.

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© Nicolas Mathéus

Materials are natural and untreated, the palette of colours very limited: an oak timber structure rests on a concrete volume, the whole then placed on smooth grey stone.

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© Nicolas Mathéus

Some hotel spas can seem rather clinical. By contrast, the Spa des Saules was designed to be a warm and welcoming space for relaxation and wellbeing.

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© Nicolas Mathéus

The spa has been designed around the various properties of water, hence a number of different pools that each provide a different experience. Inside the building there are two pools in the relaxation rooms, one at 13 degrees and the other 38 degrees.

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© Nicolas Mathéus

Organised as a series of spaces, the visitor passes from the reception area to the changing rooms, the treatment rooms and finally the relaxation rooms.

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© Nicolas Mathéus

All trace of human intervention seems to have been removed from the spa: no fixings are visible in the changing areas, the dressing tables are suspended, smoked-glass doors have concealed hinges…

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© Nicolas Mathéus

Outside is a third pool, a stainless steel swimming pool that reflects the colour of the sky. A sauna and a steam room complete the list of treatments on offer, all based on locally sourced, natural, organic products.

© Nicolas Mathéus

A decorative motif punctuates the spaces: a willow leaf. Carved into the concrete, the designers use this dotted motif throughout the project as a reference to the weeping willows in the grounds.

Atelier Rauseo, Silvio Rauseo



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