The Ten Most Incredibly Designed Public Swimming Pools in the World
Dip a toe into the pool of amazing aesthetics.
January 29, 2016
We know that ambience is what makes or breaks a good swim. After all, being immersed in water is one of the most sensory experiences a human can have – it can soothe, excite, intimidate, challenge and even transcend. A well-designed swimming pool is all part of this encounter as our bodies relinquish control to what we see, hear and feel.
If you're thinking of your local 25-metre community pool — don't . There are some incredibly designed, amazingly functional and just downright beautiful pools out there, designed by architects with sustainability, accessibility and even Feng Shui in mind. Whether you're a serious swimmer, design enthusiast, or just a general lover of good aesthetics, these are ten of the best architecturally designed public swimming pools in the world. So pack your one-piece and your goggles, and add these blue beauties to your next overseas itinerary.
'DE HEUVELRAND' VOORTHUIZEN SWIMMING POOL — VOORTHUIZEN, NETHERLANDS
In Voorthuizen, a slopping roofline of blond timber provides the ideal vista for your backstroke. Built as a new facility in an area of development, the building has been designed by Slangen + Koenis Architecten as one large stone block with masses cut out of it — those masses complementing the function and orientation of the pool itself. This bright, neutral interior brings simplicity to slugging laps and, importantly, allows for the pool to be overseen by one employee. Built on a landscaped lawn and surrounded by a forest, you can be assured that swimmers' lungs breathe easy here.
REGENT PARK AQUATIC CENTRE — TORONTO, CANADA
The revitalisation of Regent Park Aquatic Centre goes hand-in-hand with the transitional community in which it is located. Designed as a local meeting place for many of the area's socially marginalised and migrant communities, this 'Pavilion in the Park' brings an existing outdoor pool indoors for a variety of purposes. The facility's design — done by MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects — reflects this appropriately in a number of ways; the aquatics hall provides spaces for cultural groups interested in private swimming, whilst also being the first facility in Canada to employ the use of universal change rooms which no longer separate males and females. Instead, private change cubicles in common change rooms are used to address cultural and gender identity issues and to enhance safety.
LONDON AQUATICS CENTRE — LONDON, ENGLAND
Built by Zaha Hadid Architects for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the naked eye may see a mass of concrete and water at the London Aquatic Centre. Considering the space a bit more closely though, its architectural conception lives in the fluidity of water in motion and the riverside landscapes surrounding Olympic Park. It's an example of what great design can do on a large scale. Created to accommodate over 17,000 spectators, the billowing roof sweeps from the ground upwards to swathe three different pools, but also remains distinctly relevant to the needs of the public in its 'legacy' use after the Olympics.
CENTRO NATATORIO MOMPIANO — BRESCIA, ITALY
Built to reflect its urban environment, this pool is unadorned and pretty much all you need to live out your days of serene swimming. Compact brown clinker bricks cut harsh lines across the horizon to make this facility seem more of an art gallery than anywhere where you'd work up a sweat — and that's perfectly alright with us. The outside also makes its way into the facility's heart, where the bricks continue their precision to render the pool spaces light and effortless. Designed by Camillo Botticini Architect, together with Francesco Craca, Arianna Foresti and Nicola Martinoli, it's great example of how pure functionality can shine without even coming close to boring or bland.
PISCINE TOURNESOL — STRASBOURG, FRANCE
The recent refurbishment (by French architects, Urbane Kultur) of this decades-old pool has brought Lingolsheim, just outside of Strasbourg, into the modern day. Airy and full of natural light, this modish design isn't too far off feeling like it's from the future; the spaceship-like complex is one of over 183 dome-shaped swimming pools built by the French government during the 1980s to encourage more citizens to swim. The dome has been constructed with a self-supporting frame so the inside of the tournesol — that's 'sunflower' in French — is column-free inside. Also inspired by the way sunflowers angle themselves towards the sun, sliding panels within the building allow the structure to be opened during summer.
PRINCE ALFRED PARK POOL — SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Perhaps the most accessible swimming pool on this list, a visit to Prince Alfred Park Pool should be mandatory for every visitor to (or resident of) Sydney. Designed by Neeson Murcutt Architects as part of the invigoration of Redfern's Prince Alfred Park in 2013, a swim here invites immediate invocation of a long, hot Australian summer at the pool. Built cleverly amongst a 'folded landscape' of native grasses to both protect the green space of this inner urban area and provide swimmers with some protection, the facility is, at once, confined and imposing. Yellow umbrellas and palm trees make this architectural space a little less serious than most, but no less impressive.
AQUATIC CENTRE LOUVIERS — LOUVIERS, FRANCE
One for pastel lovers, the aquatic centre at Louviers in France is nothing short of a sorbet dream. Situated amongst landscaped waterways, as well as being nestled against a downtown railway and highway, DRD Architecture decided to draw inspiration from the linear structures of the environment when planning the identity of this project. And it shows. The insides of the facility transmit a fluidity of volume — in lines and in water — to its outdoor spaces, whilst the flux of visitors to centre contribute to this transience. Built in consideration of natural light, energy saving and minimal impact on the environment, Aquatic Centre Louviers is one swimming pool designed for the ages.
NATURBAD RIEHEN — RIEHEN, SWITZERLAND
Switzerland is known for its awe-inspiring landscapes, so it makes sense that nature would be front of mind for any architect working alongside the outdoors. Years of unrealised proposals for conventional swimming pools in the town of Riehen finally gave way to the natural approach: a biologically filtered bathing lake. Visitors swim in a naturally filtered lake that is kept clean using aqua plants and layers of soil, sand and gravel, delivering an experience that is free of chlorine and traditional machinery. Whilst the bath — designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron — contributes to the rise in popularity of natural swimming pools across Europe, it also pays homage to the traditional riverside baths of older generations.
LEÇA SWIMMING POOLS — LEÇA DE PALMEIRA, PORTUGAL
Built in 1966 by renowned Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, the swimming pools at Leça are today internationally recognised. Graceful and beautiful in its aging, the facility is lowered into the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and provides visitors with a wonderful blur between the natural and manmade. Ocean sounds bounce off the natural stone walls as visitors walk through the sloping entry point, where they are then met with swimming pools built amongst the coastline's natural rock formations. In almost all instances the water level of the pool and ocean appear to be equal, connecting the swimmer with the expanse of their surrounds.
AQUAZENA — PARIS, FRANCE
Designed by Mikou Studio for the City of Issy-les-Moulineaux southwest of Paris last year, this is definitely not your ordinary public swimming pool. Whilst smooth concrete walls, rounded windows and doorways with similar curved edges exude a late 1970s feeling, Feng Shui specialist Laurence Dujardin has also contributed to the calm, minimal aesthetic, resulting in a facility that uses the traditions of Chinese space-planning to create a naturally lit, uncluttered and fluid space. In particular, skylights allow daylight to filter through the swimming area, whilst a grassy rooftop solarium sits above. The external walls of the facility also feature undulating wooden slats to reflect the circular movements of water, movement and energy.
Top image: AquaZena by Mikou Studio.
Concrete Playground Trips
Book unique getaways and adventures dreamed up by our editors