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More often than not, a construction project begins by analyzing the urban context in which a building is going to stand. When it came to the restoration and extension of the Tournesol pool in Lingolsheim, the premise was quite the opposite – how to go about undertaking the same project in many different settings?
The architecture firm URBANE KULTUR naturally chose HI-MACS® for their groundbreaking refurbishment plan, using the Solid Surface for the interior of the domed ceiling and fittings. The material has given the pool a new visual identity while preserving the architectural and aesthetic codes of the original structure.
Within the framework of a program entitled '1’000 Pools', launched back in 1969 by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Recreation, the architect Bernard Schoeller designed the 'Tournesol' (or 'Sunflower') pool, a structure which opens its 'petals' when the sun comes out.
The project, which was quite ahead of its time, was carried out in 183 French towns from the mid-70s to the early 1980s. One of the pools is located in Lingolsheim, in the heart of a residential zone.
An architecture contest was organized to see who could come up with the best plan for renovating the 'Tournesol' pools.
The architecture firm URBANE KULTUR, founded 15 years ago by Dominique Cornaert and Philippe Dahan, won the contest with flying colours thanks to their ad hoc proposal. Their solid expertise in the field of public facilities construction lent itself particularly well to the success of the project. The firm was especially eager to rise to the challenge represented by the restoration and extension of 'Tournesol' pools, having to take into consideration elements that were already in place, notably the futuristic design from the 1970s.
Among the most important elements included in the mission statement were the installation of spacious and open unisex changing rooms, the restoration of the interior and exterior of the domed ceiling, and the thermal optimization of the structure.
It was the domed ceiling that made the whole operation particularly complex. The main issue became how to successfully extend the building without altering its unique, space-age look in order to preserve its intrinsic qualities.
The basic structure was left unaltered. The dome was renovated, energy-saving improvements were put in place and the mechanism allowing the structure to slide open 120 degrees was maintained. Inside, the changing rooms were demolished allowing enough space for three separate pools. The extension that now houses the entrance hall, changing rooms, offices and technical facilities is independent of the 'Tournesol' pool area.
Like a boomerang, it envelopes the dome without touching it. The patio between the two structures is a landscaped area that plays with light and transparency.
Swimmers get the impression they are out in the open air in this bright and airy space where the innovative architectural concept invites the outdoors in.
The flexibility of HI-MACS® has allowed the architects to be as demanding as they like. Hugging the curves of the UFO-like dome, the Solid Surface was thermoformed into a double curvature to merge with the existing structure and clad the arched forms.
The task involved installing made-to-measure Alpine White HI-MACS® panels that were arched and assembled by ADJ France. Invisible joints, sealing the panels together, added the finishing touch. The surface of the dome is made up of 48 units, measuring about 150cm by 200cm, that form the lining of the lower part of the structure.
A canyon of light has been created to light up the canvas stretched above the expanse of new generation acrylic stone. The surface of the dome is adorned with a smooth white lining punctuated with portholes, also made using the Solid Surface. The furniture in the reception area (bench and counter) and the sinks in the sanitary facilities were also made with HI-MACS®.
"Scratch-proof and extremely resistant to wear and stains, this acrylic stone is the answer to problems encountered in public places subject to heavy traffic like pools such as the 'Tournesol'," affirms the architecture firm URBANE KULTUR.
Furthermore, it is completely hygienic. The smooth, non-porous surface of 'Solid Surface' is pleasing to the touch, resistant to intense use and easy to clean and maintain – its properties preventing bacteria, fungi or chemical agents from seeping in and altering the material.
The colour choice of Alpine White allows for optimal diffusion of light throughout the structure. The areas in the extension are all organized around the windowed patio that lets in plenty of natural daylight. Clever use of transparency means that all public zones communicate visually. Open to the outside world, the flowing structure has become easily identifiable.
The calming influence of the sober design allows swimmers to enjoy a moment of peaceful relaxation.
The patio solarium extends out from the indoor beach. Made using a light shade of exposed-aggregate concrete, it is skid-proof, soft to the touch of bare feet and adorned with sun loungers and parasols. The garden solarium is on a gentle slope. The forecourt runs the length of the Rue de la Normandie, overlooked by the largely glazed entrance hall. The double transparency from the patio to the swimming pools invites you to enter.
HI-MACS® has overcome the initial project concerns: how to refurbish the structure without deforming the architectural ensemble, while providing a suitable technical solution. The malleability and flexibility of "Solid Surface" has more than lived up to the expectations of architects when it comes to design, hygiene and resistance.
"The New generation acrylic stone has contributed to creating optimal light circulation and a calming atmosphere providing ideal conditions in which to welcome the public," explains one of the architects in charge of the project.