Herzog & de Meuron creates a chemical-free swimming pool, surrounded by enticing larch wood facilities, in Riehen, Switzerland.
Everyone is going organic these days. In Riehen, Switzerland, the green is better ethos has extended to the community’s new swimming lake conceived by venerable Basel firm Herzog & de Meuron. The residents of Riehen, a picturesque city of 20,000 on the bank of the Rhine, had been yearning for a spot to take a dip since at least the late 1970s when Herzog & de Meuron first put forth a plan for a pool.
Fast forward 30 years and their new plan, this time for a chemical- and mechanical- free version was met with much enthusiasm by the community, and approved in a municipal vote before construction began in 2013. At Naturbad, there is no chlorine in the water (or scenting the air) – rather, biological filtration systems, including native plant-life and aggregate layers, circulate and clean the water.
Framed by a sea of larch wood and lush greenery, the pool area has the look and feel of a natural lake, and all the charm of a secret swimming spot. But unlike an actual lake, this one offers lap and recreational pools, a children’s area, and spots for diving and sliding. For lounging, a large grassy area surrounds the waters and two wide docks extend out and over the pool, evoking the spirit of the Badi, Basel’s traditional wooden riverside baths. And, unlike most sterile and rectilinear public pools, this one offers warm wood seating, built-in loungers and shelter, outdoor showers, a café, and fresh air.
Directly adjacent to the swimming area, the long wood wall of the facilities building is uniform and unadorned, in keeping with the organic programme at work. The result is a new summer destination that can accommodate up to 2,000 bathers daily – surely enough to whet the appetite of Riehen’s swimmers.