Large format ceramics used for spectacular rooftop terrace in Spain

by Ofentse Sefolo
Large format ceramics used for spectacular rooftop terrace in Spain

The roof of the Hotel Olympus Palace is an unmistakable landmark in Salou, Spain, thanks to the shimmering water that is seen through the glass panels of the rooftop pool. Barcelona architects, Matic & Garau, created a space that makes guests and passers-by curious about visiting the rooftop terrace and large pool.

The hotel was originally built in the mid-1970s and has around 250 rooms. An extensive renovation of the hotel, which largely focussed on the 1600m² roof area above the sixth floor, was completed in 2018. Before the renovation, there was only a small water basin, two whirpools and a few areas for deck chairs. The hotel wanted to realise a spacious roof terrace with pools, a fitness area, bar and plenty of space for sunbathing.

Architect Dubravka Matic says the goal was to create a spectacular roof landscape that would change the image of the hotel and be unique in Salou. “Hotel guests should not only enjoy the refreshing water, the cool wind and the view of the Mediterranean Sea, but also the relaxed lounge atmosphere with evening events and concerts around the bar,” says Dubravka.

Aligning a new design with an existing structure
The location and size of the water basins had to be precisely matched to the load-bearing capacity of the existing structure, the existing pipes and the position of numerous vertical exhaust air shafts. This proved particularly challenging for the architects.

From the concept phase, the design team focused on creating a raised pool area in the centre of the southern part of the roof with the water surface approximately 1.5m above the U-shaped sundeck around it. The raised pool design incorporates long glass panels in the poolside walls, which offer swimming and diving bathers a view over the city and the sea, while opening up unusual underwater views in the opposite direction.

Choosing the perfect porcelain stoneware tiles
Sand-beige porcelain stoneware tiles in 60 x 120cm of the Valley series of Agrob Buchtal were used for the interior floors and walls of the pool. The large stoneware tiles lend the 85m² pool an unobtrusive noblesse thanks to their earthy relief structure and natural look. The tiles were chosen because they blend in perfectly with the nearby sandy beaches and rocks of the Costa Daurada and make the water sparkle intensely blue in the sun. The large format not only offers an exceptional visual impression but also the advantage of a low proportion of joints, so that the cleaning effort for the tiles is comparatively low despite the appropriate slip resistance.

“The light colour and the large formats should also create a modern appearance and avoid overheating,” says Dubravka.

The same tiles were chosen for the 15m² whirlpool, which is also located in the raised pool area directly next to the 20m long large pool, and for the pairs of columns placed in the centre of the pool area. The columns discreetly hide the ventilation shafts of the hotel bathrooms, while the pergola serves to create a striking roof structure and accommodate the LED lighting.

A wood-plastic composite material was used to cover the pool edge, the pool surrounds, the outer side walls of the pool and the floors of the sundecks. The architects wanted to create a differentiated transition zone between the water basin and the northern part of the roof area with lounge, bar and further deck chair areas using the wood lookalike material.

The Olympus Palace is the only hotel in Salou with such a spectacular rooftop area. Both hotel guests and external visitors enjoy the area for sunbathing, sipping cocktails and taking Instagram-worthy underwater pictures.

For more information please contact local expert Roger Skudder via rskudder@global.co.za.

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