2015 Inception Award | Sumaiya Abdul Rahman


This project takes a unique approach to spatial design, highlighting mood and atmosphere as well as illustrating people in their nature and movement.

In a time when the religion of Islam is greatly misunderstood and controversialised, this project seeks to share the beauty and ceremony of the ritual of Wudu (ablution) with a largely non- Muslim community through the programme of a boutique spa in the midst of the Cuba Street district in Wellington city.

In the Islamic culture, in order to be pure, one must wash oneself with owing water, a process called Wudu, this ritual is particularly important prior to prayer, and to achieve a path of enlightenment. Within the context of the design, this important ritual is ampli ed and developed to be a guide through the journey, so people may attain serenity and be cleansed physically and spiritually.

Upon entering into the spa, the journey to cleansing begins. Genders are separated (as is customary in Islamic culture) into mirroring paths, where each walks their journey individually. The notion of separation is played upon, using materiality and light to allow the visual haze of movement of the silhouette from each side to been seen from the other.

In Islamic culture, the signi cance of interaction between people, speci cally of opposite genders is higher than in many western cultures, these proximities were carefully considered in the design.

Water ows, in a channel through the building towards the entrance point, creating curiosity

of source of water, as the patron follows the path of the owing water upstream, they journey through moments of dark and light evoking feelings of anticipation, until they nd themselves at the origin of the purifying water, to be submerged within.

Islamic ritual and various aspects, such as private and public realms of the body, were explored to give the design a further level of anthropomorphism. By bringing in a human aspect to the design, it ensures a connection of water to the body and spirit.

Iterations of thematic matrices were thoroughly developed as wider topics were overlapped to get an outcome that would be suitable for the context of Islamic ritual and behaviour within space. Taking key words from the initial matrix and linking it to ideas/spaces within the design helped in understanding di erent spaces. The matrix has speci cally been useful to articulate the private bath and the public spa.

The materials Jarrah timber and concrete were chosen to enhance the design concept over time. As Jarrah settles, the panels will bleed when exposed to water and steam, it will bleed onto the concrete which will stain, and then fade over time, speaking of the beauty of age and the patina of time.

Using watercolour helped to express the atmosphere of the proposed spa interior. The uniqueness of watercolour and ink spreading onto textured paper has unlocked many textures, patterns, colours and mood painting which feed back into, and were incorporated in the design, such as the idea of the Jarrah bleeding into the concrete.

Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals, with their distinct aesthetic that reads serenity and tranquillity which he beautifully crafted, has heavily in uenced the type of atmosphere strived for in this design, as well as the materiality and the colour palette.

Initial depiction of the public spa