The Syrdall Schwemm school and recreational baths in Niederanven has numerous attractions to offer, not only with its extensive range of bathing options – the sight of the distinctively designed building alone is food for discussion. Iridescent gold, its dynamic structural shape attracts attention from a distance while still fitting in harmoniously with its surroundings.
The baths is situated in a beautiful landscape, a valley basin with a steep north hillside location and a slope of around 14 metres. At the point where the village meets the countryside, it marks the end of the build-up area. Freely arranged in its immediate vicinity are located a school centre, a retirement home, the town hall and a business centre. The community wished as far as possible to retain the character of the natural environment and to make it tangible in the building itself. The architects captured the particular topographical features of the location, reflecting it in the architecture of the new recreational baths. With its compact, dynamic structural shape, the building integrates gently into its setting, its large-surface glazing simultaneously corresponding with the surrounding countryside. The transparent character of the recreational baths creates a fluid transition between indoor and outside space, its golden exterior façade relating to the property’s description “On the Sand”.
The spacious and transparently designed entrance hall to the baths gives a clear view into the bathing area, while its various gastronomic offerings entice visitors to linger awhile. All of the baths’ functional areas can be accessed from here. The changing areas are arranged over two floors: single changing rooms for recreational bathers are situated on the ground floor, while the upper floor accommodates changing rooms for school classes and clubs. This spatial separation provides for clear routes for visitors as well as equalizing the flow of visitors. The upper floor also houses the sauna wing. This can be accessed either from the foyer or via a gallery from the bathing hall. The compact and dynamic form of the building can also be experienced in the bathing hall. With its spacious and airy design, the visitor has a clear overview of the various functional areas and can easily orientate himself. The individual pools are simply and clearly shaped and are organized in accordance with their function: the large swimming pool is linked to the changing and shower rooms, while the recreational and children’s pools as well as access to the outdoor pool are arranged along the south and west façade, which is glazed to the height of the storey. Due to the incline of the plot, this adventure area is at a higher level than the sports pool, so that the different areas are already zoned off due to the incorporation of the topography in the interior. The transparent design of the bathing hall not only allows generous amounts of light to enter far into the foyer, but also offers a 360° panoramic view into the scenic surrounding countryside. The filigree, façade-high glazing was developed as a post and mullion construction with an interior supporting steel structure and large-format panels. Vertical flat steel bars form the supporting elements of the façade structure. The flat steel bars are inclined slightly inwards, so reducing the room volume in the upper area of the swimming hall. Horizontal flat-steel girders are stretched between the vertical profiles. Positioned in front of the supporting structure is a slim steel post and mullion construction consisting of T-bars, so that incoming air flowing in from below can spread unimpeded along the surface of the façade.
The particular highlight and constitutive element in the bathing hall is the tube slide. While the starting and finishing point – a distinctively designed spiral staircase and the catch pool – is located in the bathing hall, the slide penetrates the south façade at two points and snakes its way down on the outside. This is a striking example of how aesthetics can be combined with function in a natural way. The spiral staircase of the slide not only has an unusual design but at the same time also serves as an exhaust air funnel for the ventilation system. Two staircases in the bathing hall lead up to the gallery on the upper storey, which widens like a brace along the north and east façade of the building. To the west, the gallery leads to an outdoor terrace where the visitor can retire and relax in a tranquil atmosphere. Facing diagonally opposite at the other end of the brace is the sauna wing. With its steam bath, Finnish sauna, cold-water area, multi-sensory shower, foot-warming tub, relaxation room, an outdoor sauna equipped with a large outdoor garden, the sauna landscape offers a comprehensive range of attractions, appealing to visitors with its spatial quality. The architects modelled the outdoor area of the sauna landscape into the adjacent slope in such a way that the building flows into the landscape, part of this providing an opportunity for all the senses to recuperate – both inside and out. The harmony of form and functionally well-prepared planning of the recreational baths are rounded off by a friendly interior design characterised by fresh, strong colours and warm materials. Drops and circles are a constantly recurring element. This can be seen, for example, in the design of the ceiling, where the view of the bathing hall from below is dissected into colourful surfaces derived from circles, as well as in the control system and even in individual accessories such as mirrors and lights.