Home » BIM project example » How to design a wellness centre and Spa: the complete technical guide

wellness centre design project

How to design a wellness centre and Spa: the complete technical guide

Here is the technical guide to design a wellness centre. Standard references, functional indications, interior spaces arrangement and a practical example with a 3D BIM model to download

In this practical guide we’ll be taking a look at how to design a wellness centre and spa, covering the main technical aspects with regards to a functional interior spaces arrangement, as everything in a spa needs to be carefully planned out to guarantee a comfortable environment for guests combined with a scenic impact.

Here you can immediately download the project file for free and the trial version of Edificius, the 3D/BIM building design software with all the integrated features in a single solution.

Spa design: introductory aspects

The best spa architecture can transport the visitor to an authentic place of total relaxation. Therefore, space planning is very important at early stages of design. Critical to a building layout are:

  • the entrance, that has to welcome clients and impress them;
  • locker rooms, the most private area of the experience
  • water paths, with a relaxing effect on our body and mind

Another important design approach is the attention paid to energy consumption, both direct (equipment consumption) and indirect (ventilation/air changes, etc.).  Good planning also includes:

  • correct distribution of functions
  • technological plant systems
  • aesthetic and design.

Further aspects to consider to correctly design a spa centre:

  • reference standards
  • functional indications
  • interior spaces arrangement
how to design a welllness centre top view

How to design a welllness centre | Top view

Regulatory aspects

When designing a wellness centre it is necessary to refer to multiple regulatory aspects, ranging from the regular functional and organizational characteristics of the structure (lighting, indoor temperature, air quality, etc.) up to the safety for users and personnel (escape routes, workers’ health and safety, etc.).

Functional indications

To truly enhance the well-being in a spa centre, building design needs to move beyond the optimization of single parametres such as temperature and humidity. First of all, designed interventions must approach different functions:

  • Wellness (sauna, Turkish bath, massage room, etc.)
  • Fitness (gym)
  • Accessory services (dressing room, WC)
  • Customer services (bar, restaurant, reception, etc.)

Let’s see in detail the various fundamental functions in a spa centre project.

Sauna design

The sauna culture is a tradition belonging to northern Europe, although, nowadays it is popular everywhere. Basically, it envisages an environment where to experience dry and wet heat sessions. Minimum or maximum levels of temperatures to be respected are generally not established (unless differently required by local legislation). However, it is advisable to guarantee a minimum surface area of 1.20 m² for each person present within the environment.

The designer should particularly focus on:

  • temperature that normally varies between 70 ° C and 90 ° C
  • humidity levels between 10% and 20%
  • correct airflow

Other important characteristics are to be found in the choice of the materials used for benches and interior covering of the cabins. The main material of sauna is natural wood, that ideally should not be treated with chemical processes. Plastic and iron materials should also be avoided, because at high temperatures these could be harmful for your health.

how to design a wellness centre top - render

How to design a wellness centre top – Render of wellness area with view of the entrance

Turkish bath

The Turkish bath ambience is based on the same principle as a steambath but it is focused on water rather than steam.
Interior space must be designed according to the number of people that can fit in at the same time, so as to guarantee comfort.

Unlike the sauna, humidity in a Turkish bath is around 100% and the temperature goes between 25°C e i 50°C. A shower should be inserted in the project to allow rinsing the body after the steam-bathing session.

Emotional shower

Emotional showers are special hydrotheraphy systems that combine multi-sensory treatment and wellness solutions using different water jets, lights, colours, aromas and music. Different experiences of hydrotherapy, chromotherapy, aromatherapy and music therapy create particularly soothing effects and benefits throughout the body.

The dimensions involved are the same of classic showers, although it is preferable to provide more space and not to keep to minimum sizes (standard measures are 0,90 x 0,90 m).

The Kneipp vascular path

The Kneipp path is a vascular treatment that consists in walking on pebbles and being massaged by jets of water or alternatively entering in  baths of hot and cold water to knees level.

The are no standard measures for these baths, whereas the important aspect is represented by the bottom, which must necessarily be a rough surface to favour plantar stimulation.

Massage room

The massage room is where the client receives body treatments.

For these design environments, a correct sizing is required, and you need to consider minimum spaces necessary for the authorized personnel to carry out various treatments.

how to design a wellness centre-massage room

How to design a wellness centre | Render of massage room and wellness area

Thermal pool and jet hydro massage

The pool is the centerpiece of a wellness center and relaxation area. Dimensions, as for the Kneipp path, depend on the space available. The ideal water temperature should be between 36 ° C and 38 ° C.

Spa design: Internal spaces arrangement

A design and architecture team should combine form and function to create a harmonious symbiosis which will make the spa project authentic and functional. Therefore, interior spaces arrangement is vital.


Wellness centre and Spa design

How to design a wellness centre | Functional spaces arrangement

After having established the reference target, whether the spa is destined to be an independent facility or integrated into another facility (such as a hotel), the designer will create a space in line with well-being and relax condition criteria. In case the spa will support a different structure, it will be necessary to distinguish if the service is exclusive for the hotel guests or it is open to external customers.

Firstly, the designer needs to identify the entrance, first point of contact with customers, that will enclose a reception and a waiting room together with an area for displaying and selling products.

In addition to the entrance you need to design the wellness area and it will be accessed either directly or indirectly.

  • Directly if the entrance zone has a direct contact with the wellness space and dressing rooms.
  • Indirectly if the entrance and wellness zone are divided by a filtered zone that can be represented by the dressing room.

The wellness area must be organized in such a way as to guarantee the client’s psycho-physical well-being, also taking advantage of the spa concept deriving from the design of the ancient Roman baths and, therefore, considering the systems of calidarium, frigidarium and tiepidarium

How to design a wellness centre -section render

How to design a wellness centre | Section render


Additional areas such as fitness, restaurant and bar can complete the project spaces.

Spa design project example

The designed wellness centre develops along a linear path that divides the entire structure into 3 large sections and creates a clear separation between the entrance and the wellness area, while using the changing room as a “filtering” area.


entrance to the structure> 2. dressing room to change clothes> 3. wellness area for treatments

Functions are further schematized in interior spaces, associating different environments to each macro-category:

  1. in the first area there are reception and sales area
  2. in the second area there are separate changing rooms, corridors, showers and toilets
  3. in the third area there are sauna, emotional shower, Turkish bath, massagge room, Kneipp path, pool with hydromassage area and external relaxation area.
Wellness centre and spa design-architectural-BIM-design-software

How to design a wellness centre | Arrangement of the three main areas


With regards to dimensions, the areas designed have the following characteristics:

  • Rooms with constant height ≥ 2,70 m
  • Hygiene services rooms ≥ 2,40 m
  • Hallways height ≥ 2,10 m
  • Surface for ventilation ≥ 1/10 floor area
  • Minimum room area ( (where for room it is intended the space delimited by full-height wall) ≥ 9,00 m²
  • A service room that envisages a single employee should be at least 15 m² and it will increase of 5 m² for each additional employee
  • Facility floors must have a homogenous and washable surface
  • Walls must be covered with a smooth and easily washable material up to 2.00 m

Download the 3D BIM model of a spa centre project

In this section you can download the 3D BIM model of the project for free.

Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file format) of a spa centre project