Cast Away 2.0
Fig: 1 - Rise in tourism (Credits-Elizeu Dias)
In a fast-growing economy, where people don’t have a few minutes to breathe, taking care of oneself becomes very important. However, with monotony, the energy to inculcate well-being in every aspect of life seems hectic in itself. Thus, everyone needs an escape from their everyday lives to reduce stress and fatigue. A break that allows one to relax and rejuvenate can be wonderful for our well-being.
Though sometimes a conventional vacation leads to more tiredness due to contrast activities throughout the day. This has fueled the onset of a retreat that comprises exotic travel but also peace and wellness. Furthermore, the rise in disposable income and awareness in wanting to improve on mental as well as physical health has favoured the Wellness Tourism sector.
Statistics show from 2015-107 wellness tourism has grown 6.5 per cent annually, more than twice as fast as normal tourism, and this percentage is estimated to rise by 2022.
Fig: 2 – Solitude in the mountains (Credits- Daniel Mingook)
Emotional, physical and spiritual factors play a huge role in our connection with the environment. These factors depend a lot on the constructed environments around us. Whether reducing the impact of transmission of diseases or simply providing a space for solitude, everyday buildings unconsciously shape our experiences.
The concept of wellness is multidimensional and always in a continuum. Hence, it assists people to work on themselves in numerous ways. It leads to the discovery of healthy lifestyles or just provides experiences of rejuvenation. Wellness works on strengthening our connection with our inner self and the world around us. However, these practices urge us to disconnect, to connect, to leave behind our comfort zones for a while and experience the unknown. It pushes us to discover our potential within environments of pure nature and connection.
So, can architecture elevate wellness in such environments? Can it transcend the experience of living and healing in nature?
Fig: 3 – Siberian Retreat, 5 stations (Credits- Kamvari Architects)
Healing in natural environments overwhelms people with meaningful experiences and connections towards life. Cold regions represent one of the harshest climatic conditions that challenge life to thrive and exist in the most extreme ways.
For this very reason, cold-therapy retreats are an increasing trend. The thriving challenges us in the deepest ways, hence humans have always strived to climb and conquer the highest of mountains. The intrigue of discovering the inner strength when faced with dropping temperatures is what people are opting for.
Brief: The aim is to design a wellness retreat in an extreme environment of the snow-capped mountains. The design can incorporate different aspects of wellness.
The participants need to incorporate six realms of wellness in their design; Occupational, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and social.
Balance: Create a sustainable balance of the existing landscape and the built space.
Form + Material: The form and materials should be climatically aware and in the local context.
Resilient: The design should be strong enough against harsh winter.
Safety: The design should ensure the visitors a secure and comfortable environment.
The retreat is expected to be planned in all aspects of how humans can be sensitized to living with nature. The above objectives can be a point of beginning to conceive this design.
Location: Altai Mountains, Mongolia, Siberia
Site Area: 5549 Sq.m
Coordinates: 49°09'55.7"N 88°02'12.5"E
The vast string of mountains sprawling across southern Siberia, from Kazakhstan to the west and into Mongolia and China in the east and south, is sometimes known as the Golden Altais. This region is famous for its majestic, pure and extreme nature.
These mountains are famous among adventure seekers, the site selected is at the foot of one of the mountains in the Altai mountain range. It is accessible by vehicles and can serve as an excellent spot for a winter retreat.