A landscape for swimming

The summum in the experience of swimming would probably be something like this: a sunny day, a lake that is fresh but not too cold, with soft sandy banks and clean, crystal clear and quiet water, inviting you to swim around without a care with friends or alone, as long as you want. The swimming pool where you learned to swim, where the swimming club holds their training and where the handicapped and rehabilitating swim is an environment that understandably falls short of those ideal circumstances. It is busier, noisier, one is surrounded by concrete and tiles. Fresh air and a view have all disappeared.

The design that ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects created in collaboration with BAM for the local swimming pool 'De Slag' in Hardenberg aimed to bring into the building as many features of the optimal swimming experience as possible. This is done by allowing lots of daylight to access and by giving the interior a terraced lay out, in different levels. The large deep pool is positioned several meters higher in order to have a view from the water over the toddler pool and the rehabilitation pool at a lower level, outwards towards the sloping meadow outside.

Simplicity and anticipation

The pool in Hardenberg is located on the verge of the so called Sportboulevard, that also includes  an athletics club and a beach volleyball court. Future planning expected that an indoor sports hall would be built right next door to the pool. For that reason the lay out of the pool’s interior had to follow a simple logic: on the side of where the sports hall would be built the entrance and the dressing rooms were to be planned, while the other side would have the three pools, separated by a glass wall, between the deep competition pool and the two smaller and shallower pools.

In that way the entrance of pool and sports hall could be a shared space, allowing for a shared cafeteria as well. The sports hall next door has therefore a mirrored lay out, with dressing rooms on the side of the shared cafeteria and the courts on the other side. Making clear choices made it possible to anticipate the most efficient use of the available space.

Energy and sustainability

A swimming pool is an energy intensive facility and in the design of ZJA sustainability is a major feature. The pool uses excess heat from the nearby Wavin factory and is equipped with high level insulation to preserve energy. That the pools themselves are designed higher than ground level offers the advantage that they are clear of the cold groundwater, which cuts down energy costs.

Orientation and a sense of place

Crowding and noise can turn a swimming pool into an uncomfortable place, which requires the design to give extra attention to these matters in a building of this size. In Hardenberg the dressing rooms, the storage and the cafeteria are all facing north, the pools and the meadow outside are facing south. The elevated pools and the glass facade of the building give a feeling of spaciousness and transparency. Looking out of the building onto the meadow and the athletics field offers something of a landscape and improves the sense of place. The glass wall between the two rooms in the building lowers the noise levels. There are wide staircases, that are situated to provide a sense of overview and an optimal enjoyment of the accessing daylight. All these design features bring us a little closer to the feeling of swimming in that ideal lake among green hills.

Client: The Municipality of Hardenberg
Principal: BAM
Year: 2015

Project: #747

Photos indoor pools: Jermaine Ellenkamp