April 27th, 2022.
Leveraging the natural ebb and flow of its surrounding topography, Alba Thermal Hot Springs and Spa encapsulates the essence of the Mornington Peninsula’s landscape through both design cohesion and the establishments deeply elemental offerings.
Inspired by the gently undulating contours of its Mornington Peninsula terrain, Alba Thermal Springs and Spa nestles into its landscape to offer spa visitors a gentle introduction to the world-class bathing and wellness experience that awaits.
“From its inception, the ethos behind Alba was based on finding synergies between the environment, community, culture and history,” said Alba General Manager Craig Dodd. “In appointing building architects and landscape architects, we had to find practices that could work together holistically to create a seamless indoor and outdoor experience.”
“With building architecture and interiors by Hayball, and landscape architecture and pool design by MALA Studio, we are creating a wellness centre that effortlessly connects clients to themselves and to their environment.”
Set midway between the salt winds of bass strait, and the calmer, shallow waters of Port Philip Bay, Alba Thermal Springs and Spa comprises fifteen hectares of thoughtfully regenerated tertiary dunes, encompassing a luxury spa building, and 32 elegant pools of varying sizes – geothermal pools, cold plunge pools and herbal-infused botanical pools.
There is a sensual suspense in the approach; the building is partly embedded in the hilltop, giving the impression of disappearing and remerging from its surrounds. Curved and corrugated concrete walls express purity of form; delineating the spaces and cutting through the landscape to create sunken courtyards.
The façade’s ribbed texture, bronze glass and metallic finishes are the perfect foil to the extensive landscaping highlighting indigenous flora varieties. The restorative properties of water is a recurring theme, interpreted in the entry way water feature, in reflection spaces, and in the bathing pools themselves.
The main central structure hosts a reception area, retail space, and change rooms, reached by a semi-subterranean entry-level.
The sweeping curve of a spectacular, sculptural cylinder staircase wrapped in bright, white polished plaster affords access to the upper-level, which features a relaxation lounge and 21 spa treatment rooms, including a dry sauna, steam room, Vichy shower, and single or double massage rooms.
An adjoining restaurant is level with the surrounding landscape on one side and enjoys a rooftop terrace on the other, offering serene vistas from every vantage point.
Interior spaces are alternately flooded with natural light from dramatic circular skylights, or quietly contemplative through subdued illumination. The minimalist décor in a sophisticated, subtle colour palette enhances the simplicity, serenity and stillness that is sought by spa guests.
This direct approach to the Spa building is mimicked in The Springs Pavilion, located in the higher reaches of the site. Here, the architecture is graphically tied into the hillside, with a radiating and embracing roof structure that provides bathers with both introspective tableaus of tranquil hidden gardens, and commanding views over 270 degrees of rolling farms and coastal landscape.
According to Hayball Project Director, Eugene Chieng, the architectural design concept for Alba Thermal Springs and Spa is characterised by restraint and refinement, marrying the inspirational with the functional.
“It is the symbiosis of the state of fluidity, the anticipation in the processional of spaces, and the beauty that is manifested in the curved lines that we sought in an attempt to seek moments of contemplation and the recalibration of self,” said Chieng.
Architecture + Design | Hayball
Landscape + Pool Design | MALA Studio
Renders | Hayball
Images | Chris McConville