Newton Park Swimming Pool | Thembela Architects

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The brief required of the architects to convert the existing Newton Park Pool, built in the 1950’s, from an open-air unheated pool to an indoor heated pool of international standard.  Budgetary constraints dictated the retention of the existing concrete grandstand which had to be incorporated within a new clear spanning structure without either imposing additional loads on existing structures or impeding sight lines to the pool.

© Thembela Architects

The architectural resolution devised is innovative, bold and skilfully executed.    Finely proportioned tapering off-shutter concrete piers flank the grandstand, divert new structural loads from the existing concrete canopy of the grandstand and provide visual framing to the existing structure.  The depth of the main girder provided the opportunity for the introduction of natural light via clerestory lighting.  The clear spanning steel trusses sweep down from the main girder to be supported on off-shutter concrete fins at the eaves. The expansive main roof, broken into three distinct planes provides a sense of layering to the interior roof surface and adds interest and articulation to the dominance of the roof form externally. 

© Thembela Architects

The introduction of a continuous ring of glazing directly under the roof plane lends luminance to the underside of the roof, visually lightens the structure and elevates the enclosed space from being potentially oppressive to one infused with light.
The envelope of the building is composed of glazed panels judiciously interspersed with metal cladding which variously echoes the sweep of the roof structure, acknowledges the new grandstand structural ensemble and celebrates function by allowing clear views of the pool from outside. 

© Thembela Architects

The clear and unambiguous use of a limited material palette, strong structural order, and simple clean detailing imbue the building with a strong sense of the tectonic and the presence of the building has injected a sense of dynamism and excitement into the otherwise rather drab suburban context of Newton Park.The architects are to be congratulated on their insightful conceptualisation of the brief and the skillful manner in which this has been translated into built form. From the architects.

Client: Nelson Mandela Metro
Building Area: N/A
Completion: 2010
Address: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape



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