Lochenbad swimming pool in Weilstetten (Germany) by 4a Architekten GmbH

published in sb 3/2016

The swimming pool that first opened in 1973 on the idyllic periphery of Weilstetten, 70 km south of Stuttgart, is heavily used by schools, pre-schools and clubs. On two days per week it is also open for public bathing. A central issue in the redesign of the pool by 4a Architekten was to create attractive outward and inward views. With new transparency and openness, this small facility has gained enormously in quality for bathers, particularly as a result of the delightful countryside surrounding it, for now bathers can now almost dive into the natural scenery.

The quality of the original Seventies’ building fabric made it possible to retain the basic structure of the building and bring it up to today’s technical, functional and design standards. Stripping the building down to the fabric also saved a great deal of time – about a third compared to demolition and reconstruction – as time for excavation and drying was no longer required.

The main entrance is on the north-western side of the building. The bathing level is accessed on the ground floor from the car park via exterior steps and ramp. This means the pool is also accessible to wheelchair users. The changing area has also been redesigned for disabled access. On the ground floor, the building consists of two cuboid corpuses with different room heights. These are clad on the outside with domestic timber. While one building corpus accommodates the foyer, swimming instructor’s and first aid room, and the changing and sanitary area, the other one contains the pool itself.

This is where continuous room-high glazing on almost three complete sides ensures the maximum admission of daylight and a great deal of transparency. The 16 x 8 m swimming pool is equipped with a height-adjustable floor making different pool depths possible. Due to the sloping terrain, the sub-level is partly embedded in the slope but is accessible as a basement. It forms the plinth for the pool hall and service rooms and is visually distinct from the wood-clad cuboid forms with its slate-grey outer walls. In the interior, the basement is accessed from the foyer via a dog-leg staircase. This is where the plant room is located along with store rooms.

The balanced interplay of materials and colours gives the pool a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The colour scheme in the interior underlines the principle of gradual transitions. Different shades of green and yellow take up the colour shades of the adjacent orchards and import them into the building. The dark floorcovering of slate-grey stoneware contrasts sharply with the coloured ceilings in the foyer, pool hall and changing rooms. The design approach is characterised throughout by clear delinea­tion. In the pool hall, coloured elements flow from the ceiling onto the walls and are horizontally bordered by wood-based panel products that also serve as shelving – a design feature that is continued throughout all the service areas and gives the building a high degree of user quality. This consis­tent use of materials is dictated not only by design needs but also by the necessity of improving the room acoustics by reducing the surface area of reverberant surfaces.

Lochenbad swimming pool has been modernised in accordance with the current requirements of the Energy Conservation Ordinance. All of the façades are now fitted with triple glazing. Electricity and heat for bathing are supplied by the new central heating served by a combined heating and power generation unit. In the course of rebuilding work, the pool’s forecourt was also upgraded, and Weilstetten’s weekly market is now held here.