In 2009, an Egyptian developer hired ai3 to develop a pair of spa concepts for their Egyptian resorts. Considered for their ability to design to enhance experience, ai3 was tasked with developing two very different concepts. The resulting spas, Zensai and Porto, are complementary environments offering alternative approaches to relaxation and restoration. Surpassing traditional models, Zensai and Porto are transportive experiences, demonstrating ai3’s capabilities and range.
An Asian inspired concept, Zensai Spa combines the tranquil qualities of an ancient retreat with the comfort and sophistication of a modern facility. This artful balance was achieved by pairing natural materials with cutting-edge design. The dramatic impact of Zensai is immediate as guests enter through a tunnel constructed of rustic woods, featuring running pools of water and a floor of river stones. Ornate pendant lamps cast soft dappled light through the entry, reminiscent of sunlight filtered through a forest canopy.
Zensai’s reception area pulls in more man-made aspects of the Asian culture, using red lacquered shutters and storage compartments that resemble medicine cabinets. Rustic wood floors and pocket doors infuse the space with traditional character and authenticity. Meanwhile, design features such as lighting, finishes, and suspended ceiling panels introduce modern elements that interweave with the traditional. The overall effect provides guests with a transcendent spa experience.
Porto takes the spa experience in a different direction altogether, channeling the influences of the coast to create a cool, refreshing atmosphere. Off-white plaster walls and ceilings comprise the majority of the space, giving the spa an organic effect that is heightened by recessed floor lights and pale stone floors. Accent walls add texture and contrast while functioning to designate individual areas. Horizontal wood paneling marks the exterior wall of the indoor pool. The wall of stacked pebbles, appearing from behind a sheet of water in the relaxation lounge emphasizes the luxurious quality of the spa.
Carefully designed elements, such as sheer bronze curtains and metal finishes, add a subtle opulence to Porto Spa. Nowhere is this sophistication more apparent than in the sculptural reception area where curved plaster walls form a vessel-like room. Inside, crisp lighting and glossy white finishes carry on the spa’s palette, but take on a modern character reinforcing Porto’s cosmopolitan attitude.