20-07-2023 Design

How to design swimming pools that remain competitive in tomorrow’s markets?

To grow into new markets, swimming pool architects designers must anticipate societal changes and meet them head on with a fitting design.

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Swimming pool design never stops evolving. To grow into today’s new markets, swimming pool architects and designers must anticipate societal changes and meet them head on with a fitting design. The 2022 Piscine Global Europe conference “DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE: THE NEW MUST-HAVES TO GAIN MARKET SHARE” offered several lines of thought, with focus provided by sociologist François BELLANGER, to help understand what to look for in tomorrow’s pool designs.

Anticipating society’s three big revolutions

Over the last 40 years, swimming pools have evolved non-stop. At first considered a sporting facility, the swimming pool gradually transformed into a family leisure activity before the accent then shifted to chilling out. And now? Well society hasn’t stood still, and neither has the use (and shape!) of the swimming pool.

1. The ability to do anything anywhere

“These days, everything overlaps. Areas aren’t cordoned off for exclusive use in one activity or another,” explains François BELLANGER. Just like sports that were once confined to stadia and are now freely practiced in public spaces, the swimming pool of the future is diversifying and being paired with wellness gyms, libraries, or even co-working spaces to fulfill this longing to do what we want where we want.

2. The revolution in urban imagination

Through his sociologist eyes, François BELLANGER observes that each urban revolution is accompanied by a new relation with nature. “Haussmanism—the radical resculpting of a city—was a product of the age of steam and cholera, with grand avenues and parks inside the city. Then came Manhattanism, with electricity and a concern for well-being, where the building direction was upward and parks were national, away from the city. Now, with "Covidism", digital and distancing have caused a further rethink of our lifestyle. We can work anywhere digitally, consume anywhere digitally. We want to bring nature back home.”

So we have to imagine how a swimming pool can answer this desire for nature and coolness in the city, or how we can conceive of a swimming pool… that no longer seems like a swimming pool.

3. The revolution in climate awareness

The last but by no means least challenge is that of adapting the pool to a new global paradigm whereby shade is at a premium, where we see the concept of cooling centers emerging. “What if we exchanged the green high line for a floating high line? The pool can become a medium for new urbanism, which can use it to cool the home,” advances Bellanger.

That’s plenty of food for thought and a challenge to architects and engineers tasked with imagining the design of tomorrow’s swimming pools!

When design becomes a key choice factor, what approaches are there to market expansion?

The conference gave way to a round-table talk joined by Bertrand FILLOT and Pierre GAUTHIER of water amenities firm Aqua Pro'Urba and architect & city planner Thierry ROCHE. Each presented his own observations and offered concrete examples of addressing the new societal issues.

Looking beyond the fad

The future history of swimming pools cannot be written without anticipating society’s future wishes. According to Aqua Pro'Urba, it's exactly such a lack of anticipation that’s behind the current issues encountered in the sector. Thierry ROCHE shares this view and furthermore asserts that the architect translates social thinking into shapes.

Meeting the need for social ties

After the lockdown, a return to togetherness? The swimming pool is always a good vector for social bonding, a place to meet, an extension of the garden and barbecue, a place for cooling off together. Moreover, adds François Bellanger, “The average home bathroom measures four square meters and has no windows; so if it’s coolness you’re looking for, you need to look elsewhere”. And why not indeed, with hybrid solutions like splash parks.

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Rewriting sporting practice

Sport is undergoing big changes. Many people can’t be bothered with governing bodies and prefer doing their own thing. “95% of French people do too little physical exercise,” explains Pierre GAUTHIER. “But exercise can be designed in. With game features in a swimming pool or splash park, kids have great fun without realizing they’ve done their day’s sport.”

The same goes for public swimming pool design: games and interaction are a vital means of inciting everyone to get moving—and of avoiding boredom!

Correcting the popular perception of private swimming pools

In a world that’s struggling to stem urban sprawl and tackle drought, “is it right to have yellow grass but full swimming pools in high summer?” asks François BELLANGER. Society’s view of the private pool hasn’t kept pace with the innovations that make swimming pools increasingly eco-responsible and even a cardinal lever for keeping cool during summer heat waves, with the added bonus of being a standby firefighting reservoir.

A modern private pool holds 5 to 15 cubic meters water. In 1980, that figure was 43!

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Making swimming pools eco-positive

Leading directly on from the last point, Thierry ROCHE evokes the need to integrate the swimming pool in a rainwater recovery circular system as well as the importance of solar heating or the use of a heat pump to cool the house at the same time. “We’re at the point where a swimming pool can be totally self-sufficient, with no impact on the environment. Any swimming pool that doesn’t fit with this circularity will be a non-starter. But legislation, regulations, are holding this transformation back.”

The swimming pool sector’s various professional institutions can provide valuable aid in clearing this roadblock: they’re the ones who can put arguments forward to governments.

Is swimming pool architecture and design a subject you find interesting? Have you created an innovative pool that addresses one or more of these issues? Every two years, the Piscine Global trade show organizes a swimming pool design contest. Make sure you are ready for the next Pool Design Awards !

© Photo credit: Stock PK / Adobe Stock


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