Coming to new fame through the recent Red Dot: Product Design Awards 2019 Best of the Best ceremony, The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is definitely a place to consider to get your fill of wellness, self-care, rejuvenation, and relaxation.
Grindavik, the home of the Blue Lagoon that has been selected as a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2015, south of the island’s capital Rejkyavik, became famous for its geothermal lagoon. The warm blue reservoir water was initially expected to drain and seep through the porous lava rocks and return to the volcanic aquifers. The high concentration of silica, however, prevented this, and the blue waters remain to create a world of wellbeing – a true retreat.
The Retreat is a new addition to the existing hotel structure that was built within the 800-year old lava flow. Reykjavik-based Basalt Architects and Milan-based Design Group Italia (DGI) did an enormous amount of research to build a sanctuary for guests to revitalize and feel connected to nature in a very unique way.
Built into the lava stone, the construction of the 62-suite luxury hotel required experimentation, flexibility, and innovation. The Retreat, a barely visible concrete structure harmonizes with the volcanic surrounding and blurs boundaries between architecture, design, man, and nature.
Lava stones form the walls, cover the roof and generally blend the building into the moss-covered surrounding while at the same time accommodating the healing, milky-blue, geothermal waters that flow through the complex.
The suites are surrounded by water and the sensation of fusion of land and water is heightened by the floor-to-ceiling windows. Sigurdur Thorsteinsson, Chief Creative Officer of DGI said: ‘The water gives this feeling of being an island in the middle of a lava field.’ The 40 to 200 square meter suites are a home away from home in the Arctic Circle where guests can disengage from their busy lives and connect with nature in a special atmosphere.
The 4,000 square meters, three-meter deep geothermal seawater basis is the main attraction for visitors. Whether on a day trip or an extended stay, the healing compounds of the warm water with silica, blue-green algae, and mineral salt sooth not only the skin but one’s entire body, mind, and spirit.
The Retreat, the extension of the existing hotel, that opened in 2018, adds to the holistic experience where lava, moss, water, and their inspirations are woven into every facette of the guest experience.
From the pre-cast concrete structure that was built elsewhere to reduce the environmental stress, to the choice of colors from off-white to smooth dark grey and in-room tone-on-tone color schemes that blend with the volcanic vistas, the luxury retreat is timeless and sophisticated.
The collaboration of the two firms resulted in minimalist Scandinavian design and Italian craftsmanship. It is apparent in every small detail throughout The Retreat. The chef’s table hewn from the local lava quarry, the perforated facades, and interior screens inspired by lava rock, the textured, dark grey terrazzo floors produced from local sand and stone, the custom-made lava- and salt-based wall art installations by artists Ragna Robertsdottir blend with their simplicity into the surrounding landscape.
The warm walnut wood used in combination with the cool lava stone and the, albeit, artificial but cleverly cultured human-centered OLED lighting add warm touches to the interiors. The light spectrums simulate dawn to dusk hues to fulfill the human biological need for light. The overall atmosphere enhances the guests’ feelings of being cocooned and nourished – two aspects that are essential for one’s wellbeing.
The Blue Lagoon and The Retreat are an epicenter to recharge the health and wellbeing accounts – by the way, without TV. At the same time, as they are only powered by sustainable and renewable energy, they help preserve the wellbeing of the volcanic, tectonic, and oceanic provenance.
The international Red Dot jury was floored by the natural simplicity of The Retreat that eludes sensual balance and refined luxury. There is only one thing that remains…take control of your own wellbeing and head to the all-encompassing wellness oasis yourself.
Have a look at the budding design scene in Iceland: DesignMarch
Source: photos are courtesy of Blue Lagoon.