Pedro Ressano Garcia's Hammam Spa pays homage to the public swimming pools and wellness centres of Roman times. Pedro Ressano Garcia is a Portuguese architect and founder of the studio Ressano Garcia Arquitectos. In 2017 he designed the Hammam Spa for the boutique hotel Companhia das Culturas in Castro Marim, a village one and a half kilometres from the Spanish border and the Portuguese coast.
Hammam Spa was designed in close collaboration with the clients: Eglantina Monteiro, an anthropologist and curator, and Francisco Palma Dias, a farmer and a poet. Both attach great importance to the cultural context of their home and saw the need to incorporate the traditional hammam. It was given an organic high dome shape with a number of small perforations that let natural rays of light shine in. Rounded benches follow the shape of the space and create an intimate, comforting atmosphere. The architecture is meant to enhance the physical experience of a steaming hammam.
'In the Hammam Spa, we tried to inform the mind about the senses of the body'
The rooms are arranged according to temperature: from the hot hammam to a warm adjacent space to a cooler room. The curves from the hottest room continue into the warm room to ensure the intimacy is kept. Garcia describes the rounded walls and furniture as womb-like.
The interior is decorated with deep-stained timber cabinets, natural stone benches, brass coat racks and door handles, bronze taps and woven light elements. All colours are neutral and complement each other harmoniously. They create a whole that combines traditional principles and contemporary technology and style elements. Garcia wants to appeal to the body with the form, the colours and the temperature of the hammam. He concludes: ‘Do senses influence the architect or are the senses enhanced by architecture? There is not a direct answer, though the Hammam Spa, we tried to inform the mind about the senses of the body.’ Photography by Francisco Nogueira and Vasco Célio