In March 2008 an open international competition was held for a new aquatic center to host the XI Medellin South American games. Clearly the competition brief was asking for a compact building in which to host professional swimming competitions, synchronized swimming events and two pools for training. However Medellin is a tropical city with a constant warm climate where it is possible to perform open air competitions all year around without the need of a contained atmosphere.
Our winning proposal is about an unsolicited landscape capable to perform as a professional swimming facility as an alternative to the original commission of a building for pools.
The new aquatic centre asked to meet the needs of future competitions as well as the availability as a new swimming teaching facility and public pools. The layout in response is articulated by a system of garden through which the four pools are connected. A flooded landscape planted with species typical of tropical wetlands provides separation of private and public spaces that otherwise would have ended up been vertical partitions. The program required complex system of bathrooms and changing rooms for swimmers and the public, All this areas are beneath the aquatic gardens. A set of courtyards below ground level give natural illumination to them and provide a meeting space and warm up area for competitors and swimmers.
The only construction that rises above the gardens is the synchronized swimming pool. Submerged windows face to the main open air circulation area and from the street passers can peek at the swimmers.
Design: Luis Callejas in association with Edgar Mazo and Sebastian Mejia (as Paisajes Emergentes)
Location: Medellin, Colombia
Competition team: Juanita González, Eliana Beltrán, Sebastián Betancur, Andrés Zapata, Clara Arango and Adriana Tamayo
Project team: Farid Maya, Sebastián Monsalve, Luis Tobón, Iván Forgionni, Juan Sebastián Pérez, Andrés Zapata, Sebastián Serna, Juan Esteban Gómez, Érica Martínez and Aura Cuartas
Structural engineering: Jorge Aristizabal
Landscape: Luis Callejas, Edgar Mazo, Sebastian Mejia + Andres Ospina
Client: Medellín Mayor’s office, Inder, Coldeportes
Surface: 16,000 sqm
Project Year: 2008
Completed in 2012
Photographs: Iwan Baan / Luis Callejas