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 centre ‘Zwemcentrum Rotterdam’: a venue for professional athletes as well as the people of Rotterdam. Silo and Kraaijvanger Architects created a surprising, welcoming and safe entrance area.


Hart van Zuid


Architect: Kraaijvanger Architects

© Kraaijvanger Architects

Impression of the Aquatics Centre Rotterdam.

Birds-eye view of Hart van Zuid with future developments.

Metamorphosis in Rotterdam Zuid

The area around Zuidplein and Ahoy in Rotterdam will undergo a metamorphosis. Hart van Zuid will become a place where residents, visitors, and entrepreneurs genuinely feel at home. Silo has been involved in several projects, including upgrading and extending Zuidplein Mall and the new swimming venue.

A new aquatics centre has been built inside the former municipal office building. Featuring an Olympic-sized pool and a multi-use short course, the centre offers all the facilities that professional athletes need but also caters to recreational swimmers.

Attention to security

As a visitor, you enter the aquatics centre 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 visitors feel welcome and secure in the entrance hall?

Let’s talk about the whale in the room

Silo connected the aquatics centre and its visitors via a surreal intervention. We created a singular image for the entrance hall’s walls with elements you would expect in a swimming pool: sports and games, lane ropes, ceramic tiles, water movement, and reflection. However, in that playful amalgamation of elements, three enormous whales appear.

© Thijs Wolzak

Watchful whales

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

© Thijs Wolzak

Pixel-perfect and durable

Strict requirements apply to swimming pools regarding the safety and durability of materials. The choice was made to realise 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 to the first level.

© Thijs Wolzak

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