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Naturbad Riehen Breaks Ground

Naturbad Riehen

The world renowned practice Herzog & de Meuron starts the constructions of natural pool in Riehen, Switzerland.

Naturbad Riehen

From the Architects:

9 April 2013 – Today’s event marks the start of the construction of Naturbad Riehen, a natural swimming pool. Building a pool for the municipality of Riehen is a project, which has accompanied Herzog & de Meuron since the founding of the practice in 1978. After winning a competition in 1979 and developing several unrealized projects in the following years, Herzog & de Meuron were commissioned to rethink the concept of a new pool in 2007. The idea of building an unconventional swimming pool close to nature arose. Expressed on technical, architectural and material levels, the standard geometric swimming pool is transformed into a bathing lake where technical systems and machine rooms vanish, to be substituted by planted filtering cascades. The Naturbad Riehen will provide new and valuable public space open whole year long for the local population of Riehen. Planned completion is expected for 2014.

Naturbad Riehen

About the Project:

The Swiss municipality of Riehen, bordering the city of Basel, lies in the gently widening valley of the River Wiese, near to its confluence with the Rhine. For decades, the local population has yearned for a new public swimming pool to replace the obsolescent baths by the riverbank, with various attempts having failed. After winning a design competition in 1979 and then seeing our scheme shelved in 1982, Herzog & de Meuron in 2007 again started to ponder the options for a new bathing facility. The changed perspectives brought by the intervening years prompted the idea of abandoning the conventional pool concept with its mechanical and chemical water treatment systems in favour of a pool closer to natural condition with biological filtration. This approach was publicly discussed by the citizens of Riehen and officially approved by a municipal vote. The standard geometric swimming pool transforms into a bathing lake where the technical systems and machine rooms vanish, to be substituted by planted filtering cascades. This concept led to the notion of modelling the natural pool on the local "Badi", Basel's traditional wooden Rhine-side baths, which combine a lively atmosphere with a timeless appearance.

Naturbad Riehen

The site is screened on the north and the east from a bend in the adjoining road and from private property in the west by an enclosing timber wall. The southern perimeter facing the river, on the other hand, is open, bounded only by a green hedge. On the eastern front, a timber fence merges into the amenities building, which incorporates the entrance and supporting facilities, while the wall along the northern and western boundaries offers a 200 m long sheltered solarium with recliners. Yet, from all parts of the facility, attention is focused on the bathing pond at the centre of the site. The biological water treatment basins – the non-mechanical “heart” of the baths – are embedded in the sloping landscape on the opposite side of the road. Together with various leisure facilities provided here, they form a recreational area open the whole year round to the municipal population . In terms of ecological cleaning capacity, the baths are designed to accommodate 2 000 bathers per day.

Project: Naturbad Riehen
Designed by Herzog & de Meuron
Location: Riehen, Switzerland

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