Plantation Patience defines Alba Thermal Springs & Spa

Designed by Hayball, with the landscape architecture and pool design supported by Studio MALA, the Alba thermal springs and spa seeks to fully commit to respecting the natural environment. With the desire to become Victoria’s most sought-after swim and wellness experience, the centre’s unique approach to landscaping ensures that they will go a long way towards making this reality come true.

Creating a coastal-like landscape took almost two years, with MALA transforming the site from a dilapidated farmhouse to a vast ecology and an upscale destination. The firm, with an office nearby in Sorrento, ensured that their site-driven approach and passion for the peninsula landscape were properly nested in the design.

“Since its inception, Alba’s philosophy has been based on seeking synergies between environment, community, culture and history,” said Alba CEO Craig Dodd.

“In appointing building architects and landscape architects, we had to find practices that could work together holistically to create a seamless indoor and outdoor experience.

“With the architecture and building interiors by Hayball, and the landscape architecture and pool design by MALA Studio, we are creating a wellness center that effortlessly connects guests to themselves and their surroundings. . “

Founding Director of MALA Studio, Campbell Morris describes his affection for the site itself.

“I admit that I am in love with this site. Growing up in the area, the native vegetation, the rural setting and the meadows are warmly familiar and heartwarming. I wanted this design and plantation to instill similar feelings of relaxation and calm in Alba’s guests and provide experiences unique to this region.

“The flip side of this serenity and stillness is the fact that weather conditions can change dramatically and in an instant. It was important that the gardens not only reflect this wilderness, but be able to withstand such unpredictability and thrive in all the elements.

Alba Thermal Springs and Spa features 32 swimming pools of varying sizes and uses, with geothermal pools, cold plunge pools, and botanical herbal pools – set in some 15 acres of gardens. Each pool has been meticulously detailed by MALA, with each stone and concrete pool expressing itself differently depending on its setting and social purpose. Some swimming pools are immersed in flowery meadows, some created like openings to the sky, others are gently cradled in banks of undulating grass. There are some pools that are intentionally intimate and peacefully private, while others are social.

“It’s really an atmospheric project, with water as the element of ambiance,” Morris explains.

“Each area of ​​the gardens has its own vibe, textures, palette and theme, but it feels very natural and unadorned. Each pool has its own space so that the bathers’ experience is not diluted.

The landscape plan draws on the existing terrain and vegetation, retaining and enhancing the existing coastal forest of Moonah. Regeneration of the site’s native bush is key to Alba’s long-term vision for the garden, which will take at least 15 years.

alba hot springs and spa hayball mala studio

“We hired a nearby native nursery to collect seeds and propagate locally sourced plants. This will not only help us replace species lost due to past farming practices, but will also encourage visitation and settlement of a wide variety of native birds, insects and wildlife, ”said Peter Crawford, Director of Landscapes and Lands at Alba.

The planting plan will be carried out in phases. Trees on the top tier will be first, followed by the middle canopy, then fast growing shrubs and bushes. The early establishment of ground cover and the massive planting of grasses and reeds are also important not only for beauty, but also for weed and erosion control, and soil enrichment. Planting is well advanced on the site, with a number of non-native colorful plantings to be implemented.

“The construction of an internal nursery in the coming months will ensure the continuous evolution of a natural environment conducive to restoration and rejuvenation; it will be rewarding and exciting to watch, ”Crawford said.

The Alba Thermal Springs and Spa is scheduled to open in winter 2022. For more information, visit

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