Height of success

Using the theme of a silkworm’s cocoon, HBA London completes a spa by ESPA in the tallest building in Hong Kong

With a location more than 300 metres above the frenetic streets of Hong Kong, hospitality design firm, HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates), has created an escape from the metropolis, for guests who visit the Ritz-Carlton ESPA in the International Commerce Centre (ICC).

At 484 metres (1,588 feet), it is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the fifth tallest in the world after the Burj Khalifa, Dubai (2,717ft), Abraj Al-Bait Towers, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (1,971ft), Taipei 101, Taiwan (1,670ft) and Shanghai World Financial Centre, China, (1,614ft).

The design firm won the brief through Susan Harmsworth, founder and CEO of ESPA International, after cooperating on a number of spa designs in the past. HBA presented its portfolio to the hotel operations team and owner/developer SHKP (Sun Hung Kai Properties) and won the contract.

The Ritz-Carlton occupies the uppermost 15 levels of ICC and ESPA is located on the 116th and 118th floors.

Inge Moore, principal, HBA London said she was looking for a theme which would ‘evoke feelings of reassurance, shelter and nurturing within the lofty confines of the towering structural envelope’ as a base for his design.

At the same time, she wanted to make the most of the setting and allow guests to simultaneously feel attached to the city with its breathtaking views yet totally insulated from the hustle and bustle below.

To create a sanctuary of softness from the stressful urban surroundings, he came up with the idea of a silkworm’s cocoon. Curved niches, gently diffused lighting and flowing spaces all contribute to a comfortable style, one that feels cosy and inviting, contemporary but not cold.

“The silkworm’s cocoon – a soft, white pillow of delicately spun silk – provided a perfect metaphor and design inspiration for The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA,” said Moore.

“We sought to emulate this place of peaceful, protected transformation by using its physical form and conceptual ideology as a guideline for every design detail in the spa, from the space planning to the materials specified to the lighting scheme.

“As an allusion to the coiled contours of the chrysalis’ woven fibres, “straight” edges have been avoided; for example, the reception desks have an oval outline, changing room benches are styled in kidney-bean shapes, and the corridor and room layouts follow organically curved lines.

The appearance of the finely textured horsehair, which clads some of the walls is a subtle suggestion to the mulberry tree slivers which are naturally embedded in the cocoon.”

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