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HBA London Designs: Hong Kong


Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA, located in the International Commerce Centre (ICC) – the tallest building in Hong Kong and the third tallest in the world. The Ritz-Carlton occupies the uppermost 15 levels of the 118-floor building, qualifying it as the world’s highest hotel. HBA London’s design of the spa on the 116th and 118th floors has made the ESPA a focal point of the city’s skyline and a jeweled urban escape atop Hong Kong’s crown of lights. Those who stay at The Ritz-Carlton or indulge in the over 900 m2 have the unique opportunity to view the sweeping panorama of the city from its highest vantage point, including the awe-inspiring vistas of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. “The spa’s height provided the inspiration for our design concept,” says Inge Moore, Principal of HBA London. “To craft a sanctuary of softness from the stressful surroundings of the city, we chose to create a spa cocooned and protected in the clouds. The silkworm’s cocoon is a soft, white pillow of finely spun silk making it an ideal metaphor for the spa – a place of peaceful, protected transformation.” The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA is more than 300 metres above the frenetic streets of Hong Kong, allowing guests to simultaneously feel attached to the city with its breathtaking views yet totally insulated from the hustle and bustle below. To enhance the sense of being “cocooned amongst the clouds”, the space plan has been designed to have no sharp corners; walls are curved as if providing a protective embrace. Upon entering, guests are greeted by soft forms and natural finishes. Overhead, a floating art installation is suspended from the ceiling; developed with artist Eva Menz, strands of “butterfly cocoons” delicately fashioned from porcelain introduce a calming connotation of renewal. The walls are clad with finely textured horsehair, while the bronze metal-infused timber of the floor’s perimeter contrasts with the central reception area\'s cool ivory stone tiles. Plush seating and the curved alabaster reception desk, backlit to cast an ethereal glow, reinforce the feeling of being comfortably enveloped. The treatment rooms are located on the 116th floor and provide floor-to-ceiling fenestration framing spectacular views of the cityscape. Suspended like streams of ribbons against the glass, gracefully twisted strips of ivory coloured metal act as screens and create a playful dialogue between light beams and shadows within the sinuous lines of the treatment room. A glass lighting pendant shaped like a raindrop glistens in contrast to the textured horsehair and brushed bronze wall treatments. Sliding doors hide the room’s amenities, resulting in a clean and tranquil style. A bronze feature wall and an internally-lit alabaster check-in desk create a dramatically luxurious backdrop to the private VIP reception area. The lavish spa suites feature a sparkling grigio marble-clad Jacuzzi bath with scenic views over Hong Kong and a serene alcove with window benches upholstered in rich cream coloured fabrics. Two areas with treatment beds can be joined together or divided into independent spaces.  Custom-designed reclining loungers in the spa’s relaxation room can be enclosed individually with a flowing curtain to create private nooks for unwinding prior to or post treatment. The textured semi-transparent fabric permits privacy while still filtering light from the expansive glazing.  According to Inge, “The view through the floor-to-ceiling windows resembles artwork - an ever-changing painting whose palette shifts depending on the time of day, season and weather.”  The nail salon has a livelier ambience than the other treatment areas yet maintains a sense of intimacy. Library shelves display thoughtfully selected books and objet d’art to add a residential charm, and plush pedicure chairs are encircled by gossamer curtains to provide privacy.     Architect: ESPA Interior Design: HBA London   Photograph: Jason Lang  

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