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Spa Yacine, Gabon, Africa

12 Sep 2011

Client: Spa Yacine
Type of works: Reynobond® Architecture aluminium composite panels were specified

Total harmony symbolises the exclusive Spa Yacine in Libreville (Gabon, West Africa). Sleek cubes, horizontal lines and a shimmering green aluminium facade, used by the architect to reflect the nearby botanical garden, instil a tranquillity which is mirrored inside the building and helps you forget your daily stresses.

Spa Yacine Queenie is Gabon’s first spa and fitness complex. Faced with the task of creating a model of architectural prowess, the architects Ahmed Chami and his wife, Nadia Benmoussa, architect and interior designer, were appointed to manage the entire project. Aside from managing the construction work, they were also in charge of the architectural design and implementation, interior design and the gardens, as well as of the operational organisation. The result is an integrated concept which, incorporated into the natural surroundings, offers visual and physical diversity and recreation.

Covering 30,000 square metres, the property is located halfway between the airport and city centre, on the outskirts of a residential area. The future botanical garden, which is to be developed adjacent to the complex, was not only the reason for the choice of location, but also the underlying concept: architecture and nature combined. The two-storey complex stands out from afar with its clear geometrical shapes and unusual colour schemes. The cube-shaped elements of the building, laid out to optimally fulfil their function, appear to be interlaced but still create one unit. Bridges serve as links between the elements and also offer space below for patios and sheltered gardens.

The complex exudes an air of informal tranquillity, achieved by the alternating use of vertical and horizontal elements – among them the stairway to the main entrance, vertical recesses on the front and horizontal elements on the facade. It is the design of the facade which is pivotal to the harmonious nature of the building, however. The shimmering green surface of the Reynobond® Architecture aluminium composite panels is a particular inspiration to architect Ahmed Chami: ”The iridescent colour gradients of the chameleon coating mean that, depending on the reflection and intensity of the sun, the surface reveals ever-changing colours, glossy hues and depths. The building hence fits perfectly into its surroundings.“

In addition to the natural effect, Ahmed Chami also used the practical benefits of the Reynobond® aluminium composite panels: simple to work with, mechanical properties such as minimal expansion or enhanced strength and resistance to weathering. The latter is attributable to the high-tech DURAGLOSS® 5000 coating and its resistance to wear and tear, salt, moisture and UV rays. For architects this is a valid argument, even when staff and visitors to Spa Yacine ultimately only notice the design. ”The inhabitants of Libreville are quite fascinated by the natural, shimmering colours of the chameleon coating“, says Ahmed Chami. ”Consequently, Spa Yacine has become a local attraction to the city’s population.“

The unity of architecture and nature to the benefit of well-being is reflected not only on the exterior but also by the interior design which is founded upon the harmonious principles of zen architecture. Ahmed Chami designed an individual concept for each space, whether for massage, fitness, relaxation or sauna, in order to account both for functionality and sense of space. The result: sleek beauty derived from a variety of aesthetic and creative but also economical and ecological elements. Thus the design is based primarily on the use of natural materials and interchanging light and colour. What really catches the eye are the numerous accessories which lend each room its individual character – from lamps and wall decorations to unique flower arrangements. What’s more, the surrounding countryside lends a natural flourish to the lush gardens of the spa complex – both within and without.

Well-being is founded not only upon optical stimulation but more on physical sensations, which is why water above all other things is afforded particular attention. Its uses must be carefully considered. For this reason, Hydroconcept Monaco, a firm specialised in the construction of spa facilities, was appointed to take on the technical design. The ancient tradition of Roman baths was harmonised with the latest technical standards to achieve a graceful bathing, hamam and sauna experience where water is the ever-present element.

Whereas Gabon has no specific criteria regarding eco-friendly construction, Ahmed Chami was guided by the economical and ecological principles of modern European architecture. ”The building has heat insulation throughout and a pleasant indoor climate, with air humidity and conditioning having been measured in relation to the intended use of the space“, the Moroccan-born architect explains. His references include a number of residences for prominent persons, the new town Sala Al Jadida in Rabat and the École Nationale d’Architecture in Libreville, both in cooperation with other architects. His construction of Spa Yacine has given Gabon’s modern capital a further architectural masterpiece to not only inspire the mind, but also the body.

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