Project team:

Client: Communauté d’agglomération Sud de Seine

Architects: Dominique Coulon et associés – Dominique Coulon
and Benjamin Rocchi + team Arnaud Eloudyi, Sarah Brebbia,
Gautier Duthoit;

20. Sep 2016

A swimming pool flooded with … light.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag
Photos: Clement Guillaume, David Romero-Uzeda

When it comes to urban life, suburbs are gaining increasingly in importance. City centres lack sufficient space and buildings to house people, rents are too high, and families and young people are looking for a better quality of life. But even life in the suburbs often means having to put up with dismal surroundings with brutalist architecture, blocks of flats featuring raw concrete and a generally grey atmosphere. Such buildings were constructed fast and at the lowest possible costs in the post-war period and have remained unchanged ever since. Progressive renovation projects within a community can help. The swimming pool in Bagneux, just south of Paris/FR, is one such project – and a ray of hope in more ways than one.

The “Piscine de Bagneux” is located in the middle of town. Surrounded by colourless apartment blocks, the building is clad with typical, light grey concrete and fits in perfectly with this backdrop. It is only at second glance that one becomes aware of the lines, forms, glazed surfaces and, the entire interior. The completely renovated interior of the sports facility and family swimming pool is flooded with natural light, which is reflected by the different room surfaces as well as by the water. And what we find here since the complete refurbishment and the addition of a new building section is in clear contrast to what is going on on the “surface”.

For unlike gloomy unchartered deep-sea waters, the new baths receive sunlight that penetrates to the bottom of the pools, rendering the space as a whole bright and inspiring rather than dark and threatening. The architectural qualities of the outside of the building compared to the inside are as different as the dark depths of the ocean compared to the clear, fresh blue we associate
with the South Sea: drab, grey facades vis-à-vis tiny white mosaic tiles. Dark colours are balanced by everchanging daylight quality light, water reflections and different shades of blue. Continuous lines are broken up by softly contoured forms. Right angles are replaced by curves, and vertical or horizontal surfaces are complemented by sloping ones.

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 102

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