Scandinave Les Bains
Located in the heart of historic Old Montreal Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal is an urban spa whose purpose is to provide a thermal-therapy experience that engages each of the body’s senses.
The Spa is located at the ground level of a building, rebuilt half a century ago after extensive fire damage, that has housed warehouse functions until recently.
At the entrance to the spa and along de la Commune Street, a thin cascading layer of water flows on glass surfaces, filtering views so that from the exterior, passersby can see only shadowed silhouettes of the figures within the spa.
Beyond the entrance area, white mosaic tile defines the wet zones of the spa. Here, opalescent glass has been added to admit natural light through the building’s existing openings while providing a sense of privacy for the visitors. The light that permeates the bath area glows, adding to the purity of the space and the feeling of tranquility for the bathers.
The formal parti of the project is derived from notions of physical contact between hot and cold – and more specifically, the naturally occurring phenomena that are associated with these conditions. White angular masses of glacial formations coupled with the porosity of volcanic rock recall a duality that is central to the thermo-therapeutic experience proposed by the spa.
The spa’s open spaces have been designed according to a notion of interior topography to become a landscape that visitors will navigate. Just as in a natural landscape, slight undulations in the ground plane create gentle slopes. Depressions in the floor level generate basins of water for bathing. At particular moments, volumes emerge from the ground to sculpt interior zones containing the sauna and steam baths.
An undulating ceiling made of Brazilian walnut wood, particularly resistant in damp environments, echoes the movements of the floor.
In conjunction with its distinctive thermal-therapeutic environments, sound and smell are of prime importance to the design, as each visit is meant to be one of complete sensorial experience. The fresh fruit and juice bar rounds out the holistic journey, purposed as an area where bathers can relax while their taste and the olfactory senses are stimulated.