To many architects, public swimming pools represent a utopian ideal: a building type which dissolves the social hierarchies that exist in everyday life. But swimming pools can also offer moments of drama and theatre; for example Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre for London’s 2012 Olympics encouraged architects to create more spectacular facilities than ever before.
Recent swimming pool architecture goes beyond just daring forms however. Norway’s Holmen Aquatics Center by ARKÍS consists of a folded, timber-clad volume and a green roof that slopes slowly to the ground, creating extra recreational space with a view of a nearby beach and fjord. The architects have applied the Passive House methodology to their design – which include 650 square metres of solar panels and 15 geothermal wells – resulting in a highly energy-efficient pool.