White leather curtains surround the Lisbon Wellness Center by AB+AC Architects

Portuguese firm AB+AC Architects has designed a multifunctional wellness center in Lisbon that doubles as an artists’ residence.

The Open Hearts Wellness Center is organized around a large room, which AB+AC Architects calls the shala. This Sanskrit term refers to the idea of ​​home but also, in the context of yoga, a place where people can learn and practice together.

The Open Hearts center is oriented around a curtained hall known as the shala

In addition to yoga classes, this adaptable space will host everything from breathing lessons and sound baths to meditation sessions, film screenings, cooking experiences and creative writing workshops.

Running around the periphery of the shala are floor-to-ceiling curtains made from white vegan leather, which can be drawn to keep the room out of sight of the busy street outside.

At the front of the room, a wall of gold-tinted mirrors conceals a series of storage compartments. During an event, the room can also be temporarily dressed with floor cushions and long birch tables.

Interior of Open Hearts Lisboa
Behind the shala is the artists residence

“Normally, when a design is very flexible, there is a risk of ending up with a very generic or sterile space, as if the only way to approach adaptability is through non-specific design,” explained AB+. AC Architects.

“We knew that creating a neutral ambiance that could accommodate a variety of programs wouldn’t be stimulating, so we decided that the center needed to be able to evoke different emotions depending on the function occurring at any given time.”

Wooden kitchen inside the Open Heart Lisboa artist residency
This includes a bespoke dining room and kitchen

A large limestone arch in the side of the shala provides access to the artists’ residence, which is accessed through a narrow living room.

The room is topped by an eight meter long luminous ceiling which, when the artist hosts an exhibition, washes his work with a complementary glow.

Next is a small dining room and a custom kitchen suite with wood cabinetry and a terrazzo-style counter.

The surfaces of the adjoining bedroom are painted in a crisp white hue while the corner dedicated to the bathroom – with a freestanding bathtub – is clad in distinctive terracotta tiles.

The same gold-tinted mirrors from the shala are used here to conceal the toilets.

Tiled bathroom inside Open Heart Lisboa artist residency
A terracotta bathroom contrasts with the white walls of the bedroom

If the resident artist wants some fresh air, they can head out to the small private patio.

Here, a concrete planter that wraps around the edge of the space overflows with leafy tropical plants, while pebbles of volcanic rock are strewn across the floor.

Outdoor patio of the artists' residence Open Heart Lisboa
Foliage lines the private outdoor patio of the artists’ residence

Open Hearts Lisbon has been shortlisted in the civic and cultural interior category of this year’s Dezeen Awards.

Other projects in the running include a stable-turned-library, a historic cinema in Berlin and the world’s first multi-storey skate park.

The photography is by Ricardo Oliveira Alves.

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