Woodlands Centre Conscious Living and Healing Spa is a new therapy based spa and healing centre located in Muldersdrift, Gauteng. Because of the natural beauty of the site and simple programmatic requirements, the architecture’s main purpose was self-evident: to enhance the therapeutic experience while treading lightly on its surroundings. The structures and landscaping have contemporary grace, which is reflected in the clean lines and refined spaces, while at the same time remaining respectful towards the landscape.
The site layout consists of a centralised, main reception and ablution building connected by intimate foot-paths to smaller structures serving as private treatment rooms. Because of the body-centered program, the architecture serves to evoke the senses through colour, texture, sound, shape, and the control of natural and artificial light.
As one enters the new spa, one processes through a narrow, inclined entrance lined with native rock walls that partner with high, undulating, vegetated embankments. The colour of this entry channel is effused over the site, carrying with it the burnt oranges reminiscent of the high-veld as well as a verdant, olive hue native to Muldersdrift itself. As one continues down the entry, we are visually guided through a cavernous opening, leading us through the oversized slatted timber doors which welcome us into the calming central space.
As the building transitions from the cave through the aperture, the space opens up and the user fully experiences the natural beauty of the river and its surroundings for the first time. The architecture here shifts from a heavy, masonry order experienced in the entrance, to a buoyant one of glass and steel which integrates with the natural beauty beyond. The jade and sienna colours of the landscape are subtly integrated into the floor finish as one process from the light filled interior glass space to the exterior expanse of timber.
In order to access the individual treatment rooms, the user processes out of the main space and walks beside a series of smaller, more private buildings. These structures are typologically similar to the main one – each with its own dense, earthy entrance opening onto an expanse of glass leading to a private, outside timber terrace beyond. Though these smaller buildings are architecturally similar to the main structure, each therapy space has its own unique function, some fitted with spa baths, others with therapeutic showers. There is even a structure allocated for intimate group sessions for practitioners of Yoga or Tai Chi, the design of which lends itself wholly with the integration of mind, body, and nature.