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  • Ntouma Maria

Aqua Health Clinic in Beijing, China by Waterfrom Design.

Aqua Health Clinic in Beijing unites traditional Chinese medicine principles with high-tech resources and a futuristic aesthetic. The 280sqm interior by Waterfrom Design negates any stereotypes associated with ancient medicinal wisdom, such as aged herbs or overflowing cabinets. Instead, as the designers explain, the clinic “attempts to use cosmetic SPA and technological atmosphere to twist the old impression of traditional Chinese medicine.” Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a classic reception desk, lit from beneath and displaying dried plants and moss forms within. Solid timber floors are stained a deep green shade using soft-stem bulrush, while the walls are painted in textured grey. A matte frosted acrylic screen divides the initial reception from the waiting area, with the designers wanting to emulate a ticket booth or entry to an art museum.

Saturated blue walls and a luminous wall sculpture of blue glass boxes in varying shades and sizes lend an underwater aspect to Aqua. The boxes replace the typical medicine cabinet, condensing the charm and ritual of an age-old aesthetic. A tea break area features tens of thousands of blue acrylic rods over six layers in various shades. The rods are arranged in a collage with lighting to render the impression of a mountain, fog, and rain. Contemporary materials are used to reflect the splash of ink and water used for Chinese calligraphy. In the bathrooms, lustrous pure copper clads surfaces from the countertop to the walls. The material is only partially polished at face-height, creating a mirrored section and providing unexpected reflections. The designers’ point was that simple techniques could also prove to be effective artistic or decorative elements. Waterfrom use nostalgic references from old Beijing and materials of Chinese medicine as decorative foundations. Over one hundred kinds of traditional Chinese medicinal plants and mineral specimens, including the common peony and Chinese angelica, are statically preserved within glowing glass grids.


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