Envision a warm lounge pool where your members can relax, an intense competition pool loaded with top-notch swimmers, or a beach-like entry where you can sit with your kids. These are just some of the vast pool solutions that can provide your members with what many consider to be the perfect form of exercise. Swimming provides excellent cardiovascular conditioning while building strength and increased flexibility and working all the major muscle groups with minimal stress on the muscles or joints. Offering water-based individual and/or group swimming programs can help increase profitability and create an activity center for all ages, contributing to your ultimate goal of member satisfaction. Ensure success by keeping these factors in mind when designing the perfect pool at your facility.
Members. The key is to understand your members’ needs and keep them in mind during the early design stages. Researching the demographics in your area is the simplest way to determine which potential members will be using your space. Is your pool located in a suburb with families? These members might like a pool that includes kids features and shallow depths. Is your facility in a swanky downtown environment with corporate clients and urban professionals? Lap pool space and warm water pools to sooth the stress of the work day could appeal to this group. Consider including lounge pools, hot tubs, tropical showers with nature sounds, cold plunges, waterfalls, arctic snow rooms and Turkish baths. Some clubs have multiple member types. To create an environment for adults and kids, keep in mind both of their needs. This will ensure that your aquatic area is a success by attracting new and existing members.
Acoustic design. When you have mixed member clubs, the acoustic design becomes critical to maintaining enjoyable sound levels. Avoid tile, concrete and steel-framed roof systems as these materials create an environment where sound bounces around and can be loud. The design and placement of acoustical panels are key in sound reduction. They can be placed on the walls and ceilings to help soften the sound, as well as create decorative design features. Consider textured, waving, corrugated, and perforated elements like those featured in the photo above. Make sure to keep form and function in mind to create a pleasing design while also absorbing the sound. Keeping the noise level to a minimum translates to a more enjoyable space for your members.
Lighting design. Smart and creative lighting design should match the pool type as well as be designed specifically for the aquatic programs chosen for your facility. Consider backstroke swimmers and the importance of directing beams of light away from eye level as they swim on their backs. Indirect light that shines up and reflects off the ceilings is essential in pool lighting design. A lighter colored ceiling or ceiling elements that reflect the light will work in conjunction with your chosen lighting to provide a satisfactory pool experience. Lighter ceilings allow for better reflection and require less light wattage, which leads to lower operational costs. Selecting fixtures with specifications specifically designed for natatorium use also leads to lower maintenance and, in turn, reduces fixture replacements.
Mechanical systems. Mechanical systems must be designed to meet air quality requirements, but for optimal performance, you should design these systems beyond the requirements. Dehumidification systems remove the moisture from the air and create excellent comfort levels in indoor pool environments. Over the years, they have become more efficient to help with operational costs. The comfort of your space and longevity of the materials depend on the air quality in this space, so it is important that the design team spends the time and money on a mechanical engineer with experience in natatorium design.
Materials and elements. The choices you have for the texture, color and appearance of your pool materials and elements are plentiful. Many pool areas consist of a lot of tile. Think about how your choices address safety issues, such as friction and slips. Add splashes of color with tile and water elements, such as mushrooms that rain and ducks that throw water out of their beaks.
Think outside of the box and be mindful of your members. You should always give your members what they want, whether it is an exciting pool area that is designed for fitness, enjoyment, relaxation or fun.
Christa Plaza is a principal and architect at Essenza Architecture, Boulder, CO. She specializes in fitness center designs and has a passion for listening to clients’ visions and turning them into built spaces. Essenza Architecture is an international, eco-friendly firm that blends beauty with function. With more than 30 years of experience, Essenza creates visually interesting and innovative club spaces. Plaza can be reached by email at [email protected].