Copenhagen’s harbour is in the midst of a transformation from an industrial port and traffic junction to being the cultural and social centre of the city. The Harbour Bath has been instrumental in this evolution. It extends the adjacent park over the water by incorporating the practical needs and demands for accessibility, safety and programmatic flexibility. Rather than imitating the traditional Danish indoor swimming bath, the Harbour Bath offers an urban harbour landscape with dry-docks, piers, boat ramps, cliffs, playgrounds and pontoons. As a terraced landscape, the Harbour Bath completes the transition from land to water, making it possible for the citizens of Copenhagen to go for a swim in the middle of the city.
THE SWIMMING BATH Vs. THE BEACH
People go to the Harbour Bath in the way that people go to the beach rather than the indoor swimming baths. Not necessarily to exercise, but primarily to socialize, play and enjoy the sun. This means that the water should not only be able to accommodate more interactive and playful activities than the focused (and perhaps lonesome) swimming back-and-forth, the land should also be geared towards a more accommodating and generous environment.
LAND Vs. WATER
With an indoor swimming bath you have some land and have to design the pools. With the harbour, we have some water and have to design the land; a swimming bath in reverse. Since land is a factor we have influence on as architects, it is in the interface between the two that we can create desirable conditions. In a way, reinterpreting the water that is there by adding land.
CAPACITY Vs. SAFETY
The Harbour Bath is free of charge, but for security reasons the lifeguards have to be able to control the amount of visitors. With the given water area, an equivalent swimming bath would be able to accommodate up to 600 people. The previous harbour bath allowed for only half of that amount. By increasing the land areas, but maintaining the water area within the security limit, we can extend the capacity to 600 by allowing people to chill in the sun while resting from the aquatic activities.
The Harbour Bath will - with its location in the centre of the harbour - be a symbol of the presence of leisure and aquatic culture in the heart of the city. Visible from ‘the main land’ and the nearby Langebro (“The Long Bridge”), it should exploit the possibility for being an icon of new possibilities that the reclaimed harbour offers to contemporary urban life.
LANDSCAPE Vs. HARBOURSCAPE
When going to the beach or on holidays, it is usually to seek out exotic landscapes: the wide, open beach, the intimate lagoon, the rocky shore with cliffs and islands to jump from, the calm water or the big waves, the sand in the surf where the water is shallow and sand castles can be built. Rather than imitating the indoor swimming bath, the Harbour Bath offers an urban harbour landscape with dry-docks, cranes, piers, boat ramps, buoys, playgrounds and pontoons.