Kranjska Gora is a well-known ski resort town, almost qualifying as luxury, at least in the context of Slovenia. It lies on a plain by the source of the Sava Dolinka river and is encircled, particularly in the south, by a picturesque mountain landscape.
The town has ample visitor accommodation but lacks indoor activities that are not weather-dependent. A wellness spa is a welcome secondary tourist feature to complement the basic attractions of the high seasons, i.e. skiing in the winter and mountaineering in the summer. In fact, in the spring and autumn off-seasons, the spa can serve even as one of the main programmes, extending the tourist season over the entire year. As shown by various other tourist towns in the Alps, this is a proven recipe and one that is certainly justified and even essential if Kranjska Gora is to undergo a transformation from a winter-sports centre into a contemporary tourist town with visitors in all seasons.
The location of the new spa is in the very centre of Kranjska Gora, on the site of a disused railway station. The building is located by the municipal hall and the primary school, which are encircled by residential buildings of smaller volumes. Due to its distinctive and extensive programme, the building of the wellness spa references the mass of the larger public buildings.
Its appearance accommodates local building characteristics, thereby maintaining the town’s unified look. Owing to consistent use of typical regional construction elements, the town of Kranjska Gora exhibits a surprising unity of style despite its considerable expansion in recent years.
The two key defining regional characteristics are the Alpine gable roof with a steep pitch and the simple elongated building mass. Due to its dominating surface, the roof is in effect the only facade of the new spa building. The wooden roof elements covering the vertical glass facade blend the building with its surroundings and simultaneously direct the interior views at the picturesque surroundings.
The programme needed for efficient operation of the thermal centre is too extensive for the scale of the surroundings. Consequently, approximately half of the building’s surfaces had to be placed below ground level. In order to conduct natural lighting to the program surfaces located in this part of the building, incisions are made in the soil, which at the same time allows for the security fence around the exterior swimming pool to be considerably lower and not obstruct the view of the passers-by. Two expanded incisions house the access points for pedestrians and cars.
The programme is divided into the swimming pool area and the wellness section with saunas and massage parlours. Since the majority of visitors to Kranjska Gora have traditionally been families and many visitors will be arriving to the spa with their children, this fact was given special attention.
The spaces for young visitors are introverted and located in the dug-in section of the building where the noise will not affect other visitors. There are adrenaline rides provided for more independent children and youngsters, and shallow pools for the younger children to play in.
By means of various smaller surfaces on different levels, a contiguous transition of the space into the above-ground part of the building is achieved; this ensures diversity and appeal of the interior despite simple design while for the spaces under the ground level, it also neutralises the feeling of being dug in. Under the “sloping roof”, there are a massage and beauty centre and a sauna section with accompanying resting surfaces, which feature a beautiful view of the mountainous surroundings. The programme terminates on the sunny exterior roof of the building, which is hidden from outside views.
Location: Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Project Team: Dean Lah, Milan Tomac, Polona Ruparčič, Nuša Završnik Šilec, Nebojša Vertovšek, Alja Černe, Andrej Oblak
Client: Terme Olimia
Project year: 2011
Status: in progress
Size: 12.200 sqm