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Dornbirn Swimming Pools

Dornbirn’s indoor swimming centre was originally built on its parkland site in the late 1960s, and since then has come to be one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. Stories from the baths occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of the region’s residents. In extending the baths, the urban character of the villa-like building on its own garden was to be preserved. The iconic monopitch roof has also been kept, but insensitive alterations to the original structure have been removed.
Both the range of facilities and the size of the swimming complex have been doubled in the new scheme.  A low, elongated extension adds sports- and parent-and-child pools to the original multi-purpose and non-swimmer facilities. Old and new is unified by an open gallery: a rest area and a place for spectators. The gallery serves to visually connect but physically separate the distinct functions all housed within a single large space.
The structural elements are painted white, while fixtures and fittings are painted black to clearly differentiate fixed from variable. A seamless polished asphalt floor is used throughout the pool areas.
Themes of swimming beneath a protective roof, swimming in a park and swimming in a town are explored spatially and through the targeted use of materials. Transparency is a consistently-applied architectural idea in the indoor swimming pool. An enclosed black tower rises over the new swimming pool, concealing steps and pipes leading to the waterslide. Multimedia effects enrich the visual and acoustic experience of the spaces within.
The existing changing rooms and shower facilities have been renovated and extended to include a restaurant with a terrace for guests to dine outdoors. This area also holds new saunas in their own discrete section, enhancing the escapist, private quality of the cellular spaces. On walking into each room, a unique world is revealed focussed on a specific combination of temperature, colour and scent. Black stone in the wet rooms contrast with bright and vivid environments in between to create a sequence of heightened spatial experiences. A rhythmic series of five colourful courtyards enliven and illuminate the way between rooms. The design of this walk conveys a sense of tranquillity and wellbeing. The untreated wood finish is an evocation of people’s bare skin.
Externally the baths are clad in copper with variations in the surface structure to hint at the different uses within. Copper was chosen for its sense of preciousness and also for its historical role as a vessel for humankind’s most prized resource in all its forms: water, ice and steam.

Team: Stefan Abbrederis [PL], Andreas Cukrowicz, Anton Nachbaur-Sturm, Michael Cukrowicz, Michael Stöckler, Markus Cukrowicz, Siegfried Wäger
Client: Stadt Dornbirn
Competition 2001 1st Prize, Construction 2005