Case Study: Spa Yaccine
A brand new health club for Gabon
Architect: Ahmed Chami
Spa Yacine is the first spa and fitness complex to be built in the West African nation of Gabon, a country of 1.5 million people bordered by Cameroon that is one of the most prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco-born architect Ahmed Chami designed the exterior of the 30,000m2 building while the interiors were designed by his wife, interior designer Nadia Benmoussa.
The property is located halfway between the airport and centre of Libreville, Gabon’s capital city, home to 600,000 people. Spa Yacine is on the outskirts of a residential area, next to a site set aside for a botanical garden. The garden was not only the reason for the choice of location, but also the underlying concept – the combination of architecture and nature.
Chami and his wife worked closely to ensure that the interiors and exteriors of the building complimented each other, and they managed not only the design but the construction work, landscaping and project management. “The result is an integrated concept which, incorporated into the natural surroundings, offers visual and physical diversity and recreation,” Chami said.
The cube-shaped elements of the building, laid out to optimally fulfil their function, appear to be seperate but still create one unit. Bridges serve as links between the elements and also offer space below for patios and sheltered landscaped gardens.
The complex was designed to give off an air of informal tranquillity, Chami explained, which was achieved by the alternating use of vertical and horizontal elements – among these are the stairway to the main entrance, vertical recesses on the front and horizontal elements on the facade. “It is the design of the facade which is pivotal to the harmonious nature of the building,” he said.
The interiors of the building were designed an individual concept for each space, whether for massage, fitness, relaxation or sauna, but it is the exteriors that have caught the eye of local residents. “The inhabitants of Libreville are quite fascinated by the shimmering colours of the chameleon coating“, says Ahmed Chami. “The building has become a local attraction to the city’s population.”
The facade is clad in aluminium composite panels that change colour in response to the sun. “The surface reveals ever-changing colours, glossy hues and depths,” Chami said. “The building hence fits perfectly into its surroundings“. The facade, designed by Reynobond, also has the benefit of being very durable, the high-tech coating is strong and resistant to wear and tear.
Gabon has no specific regulations governing eco-friendly construction, but Chami said he was guided by the economical and ecological principles of modern European architecture. “The building has heat insulation throughout and a pleasant indoor climate, with air humidity and conditioning having been measured in relation to the intended use of the space,“ he explained.