The new municipal sports and leisure pool, “blu”, in Potsdam has been completed to a design by Gmp Architekten - Von Gerkan, Marg und Partner.
Countryside or city? This question was asked on several occasions during the protracted and changeable planning history of the new sports and leisure pool in Potsdam. And even when a citizen’s opinion poll finally swung the pendulum towards the central location at the foot of the Brauhausberg hill even though, previously, a location “on virgin land” had been preferred, the dominant urban design motif for this location remained ambivalent.
The decision in favor of a decidedly urban concept was finally made via the 2013 architectural competition. The competition was won by GMP with a design featuring clear layout lines, a logical orientation of the interior and exterior spaces, and deliberate visual references to the closer and more distant surroundings. The neighboring urban areas referenced in the architecture of the pool complex are only just being created at the time of the complex’s opening, such as the open space axis with the forecourt to the east – which is part of the project – and the pool’s lawn for sunbathing at the rear. The same applies to the development of the Speicherstadt quarter, which will be created to the north following the curved building line of the entrance facade, and to the planned additional development section to the south.
The sports pool, leisure pool, and wellness area are all located within a nearly square building with about 8,000 m2 usable floor area. The two large zones of the sports pool and the leisure area are separated by two enclosed volumes for the service and changing room areas, which are divided by the central concourse that runs east to west. This layout ensures that the orientation at every point within the complex is very clear, and that all functions are accessed via short routes and can be operated independently of each other.
The spacious arrangement of the leisure pool lies to the west, while the sports pool complex with 50 m pool for water polo and competitive swimming faces towards the east. The wellness area is located in the upper- most story and is visually shielded, offering just a few specific views to the outside. The closed facade areas, which – like a meandering ribbon – enclose the building, have been finished uniformly with a robust mineral- based “natural” render. The services installations have also been incorporated in the building complex so that no additional structures on the roof interfere with the fifth facade that can be seen from the Brauhausberg hill.