Minimalistic healing south of Melbourne: Willow Urban Retreat Melbourne
Situated just south of Melbourne in Armadale, Willow Urban Retreat is a centre for relaxation and escape. Designed by Melbourne-based Meme Design, with Megan Hounslow as designer and Melanie Beynon as architect, the finely crafted space offers the best in healing and wellness for those looking for a retreat from city life.
Sitting across two narrow buildings, the business consists of a wholefood café and a spa and wellness centre that includes a movement and meditation studio and a detox facility. The central courtyard and large arched entranceway brings the two buildings together into a cohesive space. The designers describe this balance, “It’s a slice through the shared party wall to connect program and circulation and inform a spatial language of soft seamless curves at intersections and junctures between wall, floor and ceiling.”
Housing a health and wellness centre that blends Eastern and Western philosophies and techniques, the harmony of the space also incorporates influences from Japanese Dojo, Ayurveda, Ying and Yang, Zen Buddhism, and Wabi Sabi. The large arches throughout are a nod to the Victorian heritage of the buildings but with a simplified and minimalistic shape.
Meme Design wanted a focus on the contributions to health, performance, and well-being that a space can provide in their design practice and to create a “space that soothes the senses”. Which well represents the philosophy of Willow Urban Retreat that aims to provide a sensory environment that heightens their guests’ awareness and provides a means of grounding. The use of simple materials such as natural stone, jade green onyx, cement, and embedded skylights as well as long lines and an abundance of white surfaces keep the eye steady and relaxed while walking through the retreat.
Where the function of a space is relaxation and meditation, it takes a well-honed eye to achieve the balance between minimal and bare.