Public indoor swimming pool Mata dos Loios

Type: Competition for a new public indoor swimming pool
Client: Câmara Municipal do Barreiro
Location: Barreiro, Portugal
Status: Settled
Project Author: Maria Fradinho
Team: Ana Soares, César Pereira
Project Date: 2021
Plot Area: 4024 m2
Implantation Area: – 2546 m2
Construction Area: – 3965 m2

The present project for the Mata dos Loios Municipal Swimming Pool competition design, promoted by the Municipality of Barreiro, is a Preliminary Study for the respective building work, to be built in a consolidated urban area bordering the Street João Azevedo do Carmo, at Lavradio, Barreiro, in the district of Setúbal, Portugal.

Despite the regular shape of the land proposed for the intervention, it admits an accentuated topography, with a slope of about 2 m between the high level of the public road, to the east, and the low level of the posterior limit of the land to the west. This variation of the land’s topography was crucial for finding the presented solution as we propose a building that respects the current existing morphology, minimizing the impact on the land in a clear financial and environmental saving.

The building has a uniform rectangular body with 58.0 m in front and 40.5 m in depth, and is developed on two floors, one above the ground level and the other below, with a height of 6.5 m on the main façade.
The ground floor is developed at the same high of the sidewalk, facilitating the access for people with reduced mobility, while the basement floor is located 3.6 m below the building’s entrance level, which allows it to be 2 m above the surface at the lowest part of the property.
The rear elevation thus admits a total height of 8.50 m. This strategy of distributing the floor quotas not only guarantees a simpler and more economical work, but also adds value to the quality of the building’s interior space, since the ground floor is elevated above the ground level of the back green-area. This allows the inside views become wider, also ensuring greater privacy and protection to the building. On the other hand, this feature also allows to ensure adequate ventilation for the technical area that is developed on the underground-floor.
In the vertical diagram it is possible to verify the relationship that the building has with the two levels of the land and how it appropriates this characteristic to benefit the quality of the inner space.

To ensure that it fits into the surrounding landscape, the building is oriented parallel to the other buildings in the street, which allows a long façade to the west, to take advantage of the sunlight and the views. This horizontality of the volume, in clear contrast to the verticality of the pre-existences of that street, has a strong impact on the posterior landscape (on the west side of the IC21 and A39 streets), allowing the building to fit into a wooded environment in a discreet but prominent way, thanks to the difference in scale.

However, with a south-west solar orientation, this rear façade, which is desired to be glazed to take advantage of the views to the west, is protected by a suspended element, a shade visor, which is 6 m away from the building on its south and west façades, ensuring the proper sun protection. This element reinforces the horizontality of the building, a process that ends with the color of the building, like apparent concrete to, once again, assume its position of contrast with the rest of the existing buildings mainly white. The chosen tone allows the sports building to be camouflaged in the vegetation and therefore identified with healthy and “green” lifestyle. On the other hand, the front façade of the building is marked by its retreat in relation to pre-existing buildings which, together with the great altimetric difference of the heights, allows the building to function as a relief on that route.

At the street view, the proposed building is presented as an abstract volume, split in two by a smaller one, which defines the main entrance. It is covered in solid rectangular glass brick, with glued sides, creating an appearance of shine and transparencies effects, reminiscent of water in its light effects and dual capacity of matter and non-matter.

The building’s materiality thus exposes its use, in a clear public call. It is then a large glass box, which invites us to peek and enter. In its perimeter, the main floor is ruled by metallic pillars that mark a consistent and constant rhythm in the facades, always glazed, sometimes by glass brick, sometimes by large glazing windows. This permeability/transparency of the façades allows considerable energy gains, not only in the saving of artificial lighting, but also in the heating of the building. On the other hand, the shade element and the proposed trees on the southwest ensure excessive heat control which, together with façade ventilation strategies and mechanical cooling systems, allows the efficient energy management.

The entrance hall is designed as the center of the building’s programmatic distribution. From the moment we enter, we can immediately see the bathing area in the background, through a large window. But the view extends beyond the pool area, flowing to the west glazing windows. This entrance is inviting and suggests the involvement in the sporting reality inside the building. At this central distribution point of the hall-lobby, we have direct access to the service/reception desk and from there we can choose different routes: the public circuit; the circuit of administrative employees and management; the circuit of teachers, technicians and pool support staff; and the swimming pool users circuit.

It intends to be a functional, practical and capable building, but also sophisticated, elegant and striking in the urban landscape in which it is located.