Zwemcentrum Rotterdam is the first part of the major urban transformation of the area around Rotterdam Zuidplein metro station and shopping centre. After years of preparation, this transformation now sets the tone for the decades ahead. The main challenge of the creation of a new ‘Hart van Zuid’ is to make it a place where people enjoy spending time. This requires positive image and atmosphere changes. At the moment, the area is characterized by an abundance of concrete, traffic and transport, closed façades and chaotic public space. And there is nothing to do in the streets.
The former Zwembad Charlois swimming pool no longer met current requirements and Rotterdam, with its major sporting ambitions, had had a 50-m competition pool on its wish list for quite some time. The new pool had to be attractive nationally, regionally and locally as well as combine a 50-m competition pool with a 25-m neighbourhood pool to replace the former Zwembad Charlois.
Kraaijvanger and the Hart van Zuid Consortium came up with an idea that was immediately popular: the transformation of the former GG&GD office into a swimming pool. The existing office building was partially vacant, but very well positioned right next to the metro station. It was also one of the few buildings in the area that was built with a certain degree of craftsmanship and it was therefore worth preserving.
The pool is located on the first floor. This creates more privacy for the swimmers and room for lively shops and catering facilities on Gooilandsingel. The two pools are located among the former office spaces, which have been transformed into changing rooms and hospitality facilities.
The 25-m recreational pool has a cosy, bathhouse-like atmosphere and the 50-m competition pool is light and sporty. Both have moveable floors and are therefore multifunctional. The 50-m pool has a covered stand that seats more than 1,000 spectators, making it possible to host national and international swimming competitions.
The building combines two façade types. The façade of the old office building has been renovated, insulated and restored to its former glory. The adjoining, new façade is based on the characteristic industrial architecture of Rotterdam-Zuid: it is robust and speaks a clear visual language. The new façade forms a contrast, but also subtly blends in with the existing one by its rhythm and depth. The new façade includes windows of different sizes. Larger windows are located where there is a need for daylight, smaller ones where privacy is preferred.
Building a swimming pool is a complex, integrated task in itself. But in this case, the building combined shops, offices, a municipal information point, hospitality facilities and a swimming pool. Moreover, it was in an inner-city location and had to be merged into an existing building. Not easy, but inspiring and challenging.
From the very beginning, all contributions were integrated into a BIM model. This intensive collaboration – including studio days on location – made it possible to achieve the best possible results in terms of quality, cost efficiency, sustainability and exploitation.
One of the outcomes of this integrated collaboration is the 8.3 the pool scored in terms of sustainability using GPR Methodology. This method assesses buildings on environmental, health, energy, user quality and future values. In effect, the Zwemcentrum is one of the most sustainable swimming pools in the Netherlands.
In addition, the consortium is responsible for the maintenance of the building for the next 20 years, ensuring that a lot of attention was paid to smart, integrated designed solutions that allowed sustainable and user-friendly maintenance. The space above the ceiling of the pool halls is a case in point: as in a theatre, the ceiling can be walked on to easily inspect the safety of connections and replace lighting.
Zwemcentrum Rotterdam is much more than a swimming pool: it is a vibrant multifunctional centre with pools, a municipal information point, a sports company, a boxing school, shops, and hospitality facilities. Its impact is huge: it attracts new swimming clubs and entices those that left the city to return to Rotterdam. Local people have access to sports accommodations and the city can now host major tournaments, including international ones. Quality restaurants have found a place on the Gooilandsingel, and in the summer the terraces are full. All of this new activity sets the tone for the good things the area transformation will bring the Hart van Zuid.
The Zwemcentrum, meanwhile, has won a StiB Award, a prize awarded to the most successful area upgrade that helps to increase the vitality and dynamics of a city or village.
By renovating rather than demolishing the existing façade, a bit of the soul of the area has been preserved and fortified. The users of the building are proud of Zwemcentrum Rotterdam and the city has gained a fantastic place to play sports and spend time.
In Rotterdam, you can swim again, NRC
Swimming Centre Rotterdam
2014 - 2016
2016 - 2017
Consortium Hart van Zuid, Ballast Nedam & Heijmans
Kraaijvanger Architects (overall design)
Silo Agency (whale art entrance area)
Vincent van der Meulen, Joost Esschendal, Jan-Hein Franken, Laurence Meulman, Quirijn Petersen, Bart van der Werf, Eveline Withagen