In the year 2015, the Schwaketenbad which was first been built in 1979/80 as a public sports and leisure swimming center in the district of Wollmatingen, was almost completely destroyed by a large fire. It was then decided to create modern, user-oriented and forward-looking new swimming baths which would take a range of different considerations into account such as an increase in water area and attractions, optimization of functional synergies of different user units as well as the opportunity to broaden the gastronomic offering with an emphasis on quality.
Its charming location on the edge of the town, with the Schwaketen- and Mainauwald forests bordering it in the north and the Mühlenbach river and Schwaketenstraße in the south is a key characteristic of the plot. So the aim was not to build a solitary architectural structure, but rather to create a lively, transparent and open landscape of pools that would be carefully tailored to this location and blend in harmoniously with its predominantly natural surroundings and also to link the indoor pools with the exterior areas in the best possible way. In addition to keeping distances short, the creation of a playful transition between the Schwaktenbad and the Mainauwald, the preservation of the existing trees and retaining options for future expansion were also important considerations in the design.
The facade of the swimming bath towards the exterior solely fulfils the purpose of a thermal enclosure – it is transparent and open so that the impression is that of a swimming hall immersed in green surroundings. Three planted roof surfaces of finely balanced proportions differentiate the volume and divide the indoor space playfully into zones. The pools are arranged so that the diving pool, the children’s paddling area and the rest areas are all west and south facing. Towards the south there is a cafeteria with an outdoor terrace, in the north there are water slides. The administrative offices have been designed as an independent functional unit situated at the ground floor level and have been provided with their own access.
The outdoor areas have been molded to form a softly undulating landscape featuring zoned terraces for different kinds of activities and moods. Areas for games and playing interchange with sports facilities and sheltered areas for sunbathing. Each of these zones is characterized by special outdoor features such as a sculpture garden, a beach volleyball pitch, a water playground as well as a rainwater garden that floods temporarily. Towards the south and west the indoor baths building is fringed by a sunbathing terrace that is separated from the space within only by the glazing of the façade. Indoor and outdoor spaces thus become a single homogenous space.
The holistic air-conditioning concept minimizes energy consumption, provides for the use of natural resources and takes the specific circumstances of the site into account. Among other considerations, there are plans to minimize transmission heat losses of the building envelope by striving for an optimal surface-to-volume ratio, improve the micro-climate with the help of a planted roof, maximize passive solar heat gains and for the combined usage of photovoltaics and solar-thermal energy.
For more information see the interview with Stefan Rappold.