The traditional Javanese lulur or massage is a royal ritual used to purify and soften the skin. It originally began in the palaces of Yogyakarta around the 18th century, when brides prepared their skin for their wedding night by completing the ritual every day for 40 days. What was once exclusive to royalty can now be found in spas all over Indonesia and even abroad. Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa in Prague, Czech Republic, beautifully represents the Javanese culture through its intricate traditional designs and truly authentic spa rituals.
Built in the mid-18th century, Taman Sari is the name of a former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogkyakarta. It had multiple functions and four distinct areas: a large artificial lake with islands and pavilions, a bathing area, a complex of pavilions and pools, and a smaller lake. This was the main inspiration of this incredible spa located right in the middle of Europe.
Designed by TMS Creative (PT. Talenta Multikreasi Sejahtera), this project had the challenge of translating traditional Javanese elements into a modern approach. It was important to incorporate tradition, heritage and nature into a Royal Javanese spa experience whilst using modern technology in its construction and design in order to fit into the international market.
Water is traditionally believed to be a means of purification for ritual ceremonies, which is why water was highlighted as an essential element within the space. The various effects of nature expressed in this historic place was believed to help people to balance their jiwa raga sukma (mind, body, and soul). This concept was adapted into the spa, where visitors can experience a unique atmosphere influenced by the familiarity of elements and spatial layout found in traditional Javanese houses. The interior design explores current trends which is perfectly juxtaposed with the cultural elements of the Javanese heritage in order to create a relaxing royal spa experience.
Traditional patterns were incorporated into the design using modern applications such as resin technology, laser cutting and woodworking machinery. These methods were chosen for its precise and sleek finish while maintaining the pattern’s materiality and authentic look. A harmonious colour scheme and careful selection of materials were integrated to give the essence of natural balance. Wood is the most important element, as it signifies nature and heritage. The continuous spatial sequence in the spa was derived from the beauty ritual of the Javanese Royal Family, which authentically reflects the Javanese culture and its traditional homes, also called Joglo.
The lobby emanates grandeur, with four columns in the middle of the room that serve as the focal point of the space. These four columns were inspired by Soko Guru or master pillars in the centre of Joglo houses which is the roof’s main structure. This wooden frame structure is tied to a set of wooden beams known as Tumpangasari beams. The Tumpangsari are usually composed of three to five layers of interconnected beams. The layers are always in odd numbers because it is considered good fortune in Javanese culture.
Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa perfectly recreates the beauty of the Javanese culture, from its layout, to its choice of treatments and all the way to the intricate wood carvings found throughout the space. It is a great representation of Indonesia, and it proudly stands out among other establishments found in Prague. With every visit, guests can experience a truly authentic Javanese ritual.