Rotterdam Aquatics Center

Feeling welcome and secure at the swimming pool

A new vibrant community hub is emerging in the southern part of the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The first completed project of the urban redevelopment is the aquatics center ‘Zwemcentrum Rotterdam’: a venue for professional athletes as well as the people of Rotterdam. Silo, together with Kraaijvanger Architects, created a surprising, welcoming and safe entrance area.

Impression of Aquatics Center Rotterdam at Hart van Zuid – © Kraaijvanger Architects

Metamorphosis in Rotterdam

The area around Zuidplein and Ahoy in Rotterdam will undergo a metamorphosis. Hart van Zuid will become a place where residents, visitors, and entrepreneurs truly can feel at home. The the aquatics center has been realized inside the former municipal office building. Featuring an Olympic-sized pool and a multi-use short course, the center offers all the facilities that professional athletes need but also caters to recreational swimmers.

Attention to security

As a visitor, you enter the aquatics center into an unmanned hall with a staircase and elevator. The ticketing desks, catering facilities, and access to the pools are only located on the upper level. The building entrance, therefore, requires special attention. How do you ensure that visitors feel welcome, but also secure in the entrance hall?

Let’s talk about the whale in the room

Silo chose to connect the aquatics center and its visitors via a surreal intervention. For the walls of the entrance hall, we created a singular image with elements you would expect in a swimming pool: sport and games, lane ropes, ceramic tiles, water movement, and reflection. However, in that playful amalgamation of elements, three enormous whales appear.

Watchful whales

The friendly and courteous whales welcome the visitors and act as watchful giants. Psychological research shows that images of eyes can have a positive effect on security. Where cameras make supervision explicit, the whales’ big eyes can induce more pro-social behavior in a natural way. With their observant gaze, they literally keep an eye on the unmanned entrance area.

Pixel-perfect and durable

Strict requirements apply to swimming pools when it comes to the safety and durability of materials. The choice was made to realize the iconic image as an innovative pixel-perfect printed mosaic. In its entirety, the mosaic applies identity to the swimming pool and enhances the visitor experience of the entrance area.

The whales greet visitors at the entrance and guide them up to the first level.

ClientHart van Zuid / Kraaijvanger ArchitectsYear2018CreditsKraaijvanger Architects (architecture), Thijs Wolzak (photography)
Rene Toneman

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