Glacier spa to take guests on a journey through Icelandic myths of monsters and men
Tales of trolls, elves, monsters and invisible men roaming Iceland’s majestic volcanic landscape have inspired the design of a proposed spa and wellness retreat located next to a geothermal lagoon.
Architecture practice Johannes Torpe Studio have drawn on the mysterious topography of caves, craters and moss-covered lava fields found in the Snæfellsness peninsula to devise a spa that will be soaked in mythology, storytelling and nature.
The region is home to a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano, which famously starred in Jules Verne’s 1864 science fiction classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth as the passageway into a subterranean world. It is also known from the Icelandic saga of Baroar Snæfellsas, a half-man–half-troll who left the chaotic world of men behind to live in solitude inside the glacier, leaving his human self behind.
Now the volcano could provide the backdrop for The Red Mountain Resort, an 800sq m (8,600sq ft) spa retreat that will take guests on their own version of Baroar’s journey towards enlightenment, albeit within the reassuring surrounds of a 150-bedroom hotel and spa complex.
Panoramic mountain and volcano views and vast grassy wetlands flowing with winding rivers will lead guests to the resort. Subtly camouflaged within the landscape, the red-hued hotel will “seem to magically appear just as they arrive.”
A sense of surrealism familiar from Icelandic folktales will be expressed through a series of subtle design features merging the earthly and the otherworldly. Reflecting glass on the exterior of the main building will create a mirror effect, allowing the building to disappear into the landscape, while portals and tunnels will be placed throughout the complex to enhance the feeling that guests are following in Baroar’s footsteps.
At the heart of the resort will be an extensive spa, in which guests will voyage through emotional stages – contemplation, exposure, confrontation, clarity and enlightenment – much like Baroar did. Each stage will be articulated through different expressions of Icelandic nature, including wind tunnels, fire baths, rain curtains, ice pools and pitch black slides.
“We want to create the illusion that one is entering another world when they arrive at the resort,” said studio founder Johannes Torpe. “It’s a world that awakens and stimulates your senses in ways everyday life doesn’t have the capacity to do.
“Our ambition was to create a spa experience that brings you closer to nature in a slightly exaggerated way. It was to be an experience that simultaneously grounds you and liberates you.”