Aqua Lublin sports complex - Lublin (Poland)

An award-winning sports centre

With its arched roof, large glazed façade and astonishing underwater windows, Poland's new Aqua Lublin sports complex is a marvel of architecture
Claudia Capperucci
Marcin Tarkowski
Pawel Tieplow

Following the recent remodelling project, the Aqua Lublin sports complex in Lublin in eastern Poland is now the largest and most hi-tech sports centre in the region. At the heart of the facility is a 50-metre Olympic swimming pool with a movable floor which can be divided into 10 lanes. The advanced technology allows the pool to be split into two parts so as to hold competitions over a distance of 25 metres. Tiered seating can accommodate up to 2,100 spectators. Alongside the Olympic pool, there are also a wide range of leisure facilities including whirlpool baths, outdoor pools with water slides, a spa, a fitness centre, gym and saunas (following the restyling project, Aqua Lublin is now the largest sauna centre in Europe). For a city of less than 350,000 inhabitants, it is a truly remarkable facility that stands out in particular for its unique architecture. It has a modern structure with a spectacular arched roof that blends discreetly into the landscape, while natural light floods in through the large windows to ensure brightly lit interiors throughout the year. „We took up the challenge and our project won the design competition,“ said Warsaw-based architect Pawel Tieplow, whose practice was awarded the contract. „The design brief was to expand the existing building and integrate it with the local architecture. We built a square in front of the structure and opted for a façade with a strongly transversal design. This solution enabled us to create a parabolic structure that rises in an arc above the swimming pool. The slope towards the main entrance was achieved by positioning the entrance below the level of the pools. This is the most original detail of the structure because it enabled us to create three dramatic underwater windows, each 8×2 metres in size, in the main hall. The colour beige of the surface coverings was chosen to harmonise with the blue of the water of these large natural paintings.“ After analysing many different floor tiles, the practice opted for the Industrial line from Floor Gres (Made in Florim) in various sizes and finishes, which they judged to be most suitable in terms of aesthetics and technical performance. Slabs of 80×160 cm, 60×120 cm and 40×80 cm sizes were used for the corridors and main areas. For the sake of consistency, the same materials were used on the floors and walls in the showers, swimming pool corridors, changing rooms, counters and cash desk area. For design reasons, 10×10 cm tiles with a different surface texture were used on the floors and walls in a number of areas and 30×60 cm non-slip tiles in the same colours were used for the areas around the swimming pool. In 2015 the project won the Sports and Leisure Facilities category in the Crystal Brick award, the recognition for the best construction investment on the eastern border of the European Union organised by the agency Polskie Towarzystwo Mieszkaniowe Lublin. The more than 2,000-seat tiered stands were designed by Nowy Styl Group, owner of the Forum Seating brand. The Krosno-based firm has provided seating for many different locations and for a wide range of international events, including the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Cité Musicale concert hall in Paris and the Munich Opera House (for which the brand redesigned historic armchairs in collaboration with an art restorer), famous theatres such as the ROME Musical Theatre in Warsaw and Leicester Square Theatre in London, as well as seating for the stadiums in Lyon and Nice where the 2016 European Football Championships were held. „For Aqua Lublin our project management team created a meticulously-designed project,“ Nowy Styl Group explained. „The fact that it was a swimming pool meant that the Forum Seating system had to integrate perfectly with the ceramic tiling and guarantee total stability. We therefore had to carefully evaluate every risk, especially those deriving from movements caused by the use of the seats. We also had to adapt the seat design to the ventilation holes. For additional protection, special rubber seals were used for each of the anchors to avoid contact between the steel and the ceramic tiles, and alternative concrete solutions were adopted for the points in contact with the ceramic surface. For the metal frames it was essential to use materials compliant with C4 corrosivity (a high-corrosivity category according to the standard ISO 12944-5), so instead of metal we opted for hot galvanised steel technology.“

80x160, 60x120, 40x80 cm

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