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Slat | Resort & Spa


In resorts and spas, Slat is employed as an aesthetic and functional method of circulating air and permitting light, as well as providing ornamentation, privacy, and directionality to a space.


Slat originated as an architectural method of regulating the flow of air and light into an interior, particularly those in hot and humid climates. Screens or louvers, traditionally composed of wood, were fitted into windows and roofs open to the sun, effectively reducing the amount of glaring sunlight and direct heat; the fissures between the strips allowed for ventilation into the space. The aesthetic of Slat is derived from both the repetitive pattern of solids and voids, as well as the ensuing pattern of light as it reflects upon interior surfaces. Resort and spa designs often feature Slat as interpretations of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern cultural applications, such as covered Moroccan markets and Japanese houses.1 In some locales, Slat is applied to serve the identical functional and aesthetic purpose as traditionally used, such as arranging long branches as a roof over the outdoor treatment room of Las Ventanas (1997) in Los Cabos, Mexico. As resorts and spas are often located in tropical regions, the functional and aesthetic applications of Slat has become a cornerstone of their design.2

The materiality of Slat has transformed over the past several decades, from traditional wood (as employed by Frank Lloyd Wright) to include concrete, glass, and metal. For example, Spa Bad Elster in Germany uses colored glass louvers to both control the incoming light and introduce playful color to the monochromatic space.3 While most contemporary applications of Slat serve similar purposes as historic uses, namely the passage of light and air, ornamentation, privacy, and directionality have become common reasons to employ vertical and horizontal strips. In some instances, Slat is oriented in a horizontal manner and clad on walls and ceilings, visually pulling one through the passageway. German del Sol employs the shadow pattern created by sunlight and wood strips to convey this forward movement in his design for Hotel Explora (1998) in Chile.4 Shawn Hausman uses Slat as an iteration of Camouflage in The Standard Miami (2006), wrapping the tunnel in wooden strips and using artificial light and the depth of the negative space between strips to pull people through.5

Similarly, Hotel Holos (2007) in Seville, Spain utilizes Slat in concert with a boardwalk that meanders through the garden, “developing the veil as a canopy that expands and shrinks as it travels around the back and side of the property and eventually morphs into a wall along the street front. Made from aluminum beams, this futurist latticework bursts from the white stuccoed side of the villa to shelter 2,000 square feet…At the perimeter of the property, the teak planks angle up to conceal incandescent fixtures installed behind it.6 The development of Slat illustrates the perpetual correlation between form and function.6

end notes

  1. 1) Elizabeth O’Brien, “Material Archetypes: Contemporary Interior Design and Theory Study” (MA Thesis, Cornell University, 2006), 20-21.
  2. 2) Treatment Room, Las Ventaqnas [1997] Wilson & Associates; Los Cabos, Mexico in “The Essential Amenity,” Interior Design 69, no. 8 (June 1998): 198-199.
  3. 3) Pool, Spa Bad Elster [2001] Behnisch and Sabatke; Bad Elster, Germany in Christian Kandzia, “Spa Bad Elster,” Architectural Record 189, no. 8 (Aug. 2001): 110-111.
  4. 4) Corridor, Hotel Explora Atacama [1998] German del Sol; San Pedro, Chile in “Destination Architecture,” Architectural Record 186, no. 11 (Nov. 1998): 117.
  5. 5) Corridor, The Standard Miami [2006] Shawn Hausman; Miami, Florida in Martin Nicholas Kunz, Spa Design (Kohn: Daab, 2006), 54-55.
  6. 6) Evidence for the archetypical use and the chronological sequence of Slat in resort and spa was developed from the following sources: 2000 Corridor, Mii Amo Spa [2000] Gluckman Mayner; Sedona, AZ in "Mesa Modern," Interior Design 72, no. 8 (June 2001): 185; PhotoCrd: Harry Zernike; Lounge, Madison Resort [2001] BAMO; Carmelo, Uruguay in "International Appeal," Interior Design 72, no. 1 (Jan. 2001): 201-206; PhotoCrd: Oberto Gili; Dining Room, Hotel Sheraton Centro Historico [2003] Pascal Arquitectos; Colonia Centro, Mexico in Paco Asensio, ed. Ultimate Hotel Design (Barcelona: LOFT Publications, 2004), 56; PhotoCrd: Ferando Cordero; Lobby, Hospes Amerigo [2004] Hospes Design and Elvira Blanco; Alicante, Spain in Stacy Shoemaker Rauen, "Divine Inspiration: Restoring Peace to a Former Convent," Hospitality Design 28, no. 1 (Jan./Feb. 2006): 64; PhotoCrd: Hospes Hotels; Spa, Ginzan Onsen [2006] Kengo Kuma & Associates; Fujiya, Japan in Edie Cohen, "The Essence of Edo," Interior Design 78, no. 4 (Apr. 2007): 285; PhotoCrd: Jimmy Cohrssen; Lounge, Tschuggen Bergoase Spa [2006] Mario Botta; Arosa, Switzerland in Fred A. Bernstein, "A Spa for the Spirit," Interior Design 78, no. 4 (Apr. 2007): 272-274; PhotoCrd: Pino Musi.

bibliographic citations

1) The Interior Archetypes Research and Teaching Project, Cornell University, (accessed month & date, year).

2) Goldfarb, Rachel. “Theory Studies: Archetypical Practices of Contemporary Resort and Spa Design.” M.A. thesis, Cornell University, 2008, 119-125.