Many of the brutalist forms of architecture constructed under the watchful eyes of the Soviet regime in the latter half of the twentieth century sit unused or abandoned throughout various eastern European cities. The ‘Danube Flower,’ a Belgrade landmark sited along the river’s foreshore was no exception. Originally opened as a restaurant in the 1970s, the triangular structure built 15 metres above the river sat empty for fifteen years after the fall of Communism and during the civil war in what was then Yugoslavia and now is Serbia.
The Belgrade design studio, 4of7 partnered with London-based Superfusionlab to adaptively reuse the space as a high-end gym and spa in city’s centre. From the ground-level pedestrian esplanade, visitors enter the Wellness Sky through the central core, the sole support for the entire structure, which contains two lift shafts and a double spiral staircase.
Once inside the facilities, its namesake genuinely takes meaning. Fitness gurus and gym junkies are immediately awash with sweeping city and river views from the uninterrupted ribbon window, which wraps entirely around the building. During the day, light glows through the widows onto the reflective resin floor. The faceted ceiling comprised of backlit semi translucent triangular panels allows visitors to feel as if they are exercising within a cloud. The openness and loftiness of the design of the Wellness Sky allows members to feel nearly weightless in the very environment where burning away the excess is the ultimate achievement. – Andrew J Wiener.
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