Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool

gh3 Architecture


The Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool is the first chemical-free public outdoor pool to be built in Canada. The project replaced an existing pool, and includes a seasonal pavilion and landscaped pool precinct for 400 swimmers.
 The challenge was to create a large-scale pool with high-quality water control while also achieving an environmentally healthy and natural filtration process. The design process began with developing a pool technology that cleanses the water through stone, gravel, sand, and botanic filtering processes. This inspired a materials-oriented concept for the change room facility to achieve a technically rigorous and aesthetically integrated design whose gabion basket stone walls visually evokes the idea of filtration.
 The pool involves a balanced ecosystem where plant materials, microorganisms, and nutrients come together within a gravel and sand filtering pro- cess to create “living water.” Filtration is achieved in two ways: through a biological-mechanical system or the constructed wetland and gravel filter, and in situ, with Zooplankton.
 The seasonal building houses universal change rooms, showers, wash- rooms, staff areas and the water filtration mechanisms. The swimming program includes a children’s pool, a deep pool, on-deck outdoor showers, a sandy beach, picnic areas, and spaces for other pool related recreational activities.
 The project’s materiality creates a fundamental conceptual connection between the technical demands of the pool and the design of the built enclosure and landscape elements. The elemental form and reductive materials ease the user experience and enriches the narrative of bathing in the landscape.

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