Swimming pools typology: ZHA’s whale-like aquatics centre is undeniably an impressive place to swim
The Olympics have produced a number of spectacular pools, including Kenzo Tange’s cable-draped Tokyo pool, Günter Behnisch and Frei Otto’s membranous structure for Munich, and Zaha Hadid’s whale-like aquatics centre in London. The latter has been criticised for its lumbering roof, which certainly does not have the economical elegance of Frei’s canopy, but once the two great ‘water-wings’ housing the spectator stands were removed, the building was transformed from ugly duckling to swan - although the relocation of the entrance to a small side door was an unfortunate decision. Nevertheless, it is an undeniably impressive place to swim, full of natural light. Behind the main pool there is a diving pool with high boards, and in another room a smaller training pool. Visitors disrobe in a unisex ‘changing village’, a common feature of contemporary pool design.
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