Modernisation of Oderberger municipal pool in Berlin by cpm Architekten

published in sb 6/2017

Dancing on the water

After a 30-year break, bathing has been resumed at Oderberger municipal pool (Stadtbad Oderberger). The building of the old “public baths” dating back to 1902 is now home to Hotel Oderberger Berlin containing hotel rooms and seminar rooms. After revitalisation by cpm Architekten, the swimming pool with its adjustable floor is now an out-of-the-ordinary events venue.

The building was used as a swimming pool until 1986, when it was closed due to serious damage to the base of the pool. The building of the neighbouring former senior school was purchased by an international language school in 2005 and modernised in keeping with monument preservation guidelines. By integrating the municipal pool after 30 years of disuse, an earlier link is being re-established: the site of the campus in Kastanienallee and the municipal pool in Oderberger Strasse were originally designed together by the architect Ludwig Hoffmann and constitute a coherent unit.

From 2012 to 2015, the roughly 8,600 m² building was regenerated by cpm Architekten. Their goal was to consolidate the historic building fabric in the long term and restore the building to its original appearance and colouration. The technical installations for the modern building services and fire prevention equipment were all accommodated as far as possible in the existing ancillary rooms and vaults and positioned behind historic building features. The additional fire doors and installations necessary for acoustic reasons are identifiably modern in design.

The changing cubicles located on the upper floors had partition walls of hollow bricks glazed on both sides. These were preserved during seminar room conversion or clad as wall stubs with steel facings so that the embedded soap dishes and the original room structure remain visible today. The original wooden doors with their typical dark-green finish and ventilation slats have been retained behind glass, with the rooms now being accessed via glass doors identifiable as modern additions.Wooden doors surplus to modern requirements have been re-used in the hotel rooms as bathroom doors after being functionally rehabilitated with wooden frames and glass facings.

Swimming pool in a lively colour scheme

The swimming pool with its original granite stone edging has been preserved and has the overflow channel typical of the period integrated in the side of the pool. The pool of the public baths was originally surfaced with a traditional ceramic covering in a lively colour scheme. To approximate as closely as possible to the original appearance, a mix of ceramic tiles in various shades of blue and green have been used in the restoration process. The extensive range of swimming pool tiles of Gail architectural ceramics offered an abundant selection.

For the pool, the architects chose rectangular shapes that were laid with a 10 mm wide joint. For the deeply recessed overflow channels modelled on the original, suit­able moulded blocks were custom-made. The same applies to the radial blocks that avoid sharp edges. The steps leading into the pool were given non-slip grooved tiles with a turquoise safety marking. These were customised to match the surrounding tiles. The pool surround is surfaced with square stoneware tiles. Beneath the overflow channels, tiles of the same length ensure a harmonious joint pattern.

Adjustable floor makes pool an events venue

The pool hall is used as an events venue. Swimming is now possible again in the pool hall after a 30-year break, and it is now also possible to dance on the water. Thanks to a special adjustable floor, which can be raised as required to the level of the pool surround, the cathedral-like main hall can be used for celebrations of all kinds without having to drain off the large volume of water.