architecture : urban : visual culture

Transparent community space

Péter Márkus's plans prepared for the tender of the Swimming Pool Design Contest of Etelka sor in Szeged. The main concept was to open the swimming pool and make it transparent to the street and to the surrounding housing estate. Transparency creates a community space which is able to communicate with locals.

In 2016 the local government of the city of Szeged (Hungary) announced a design competition to design a FINA standard swimming pool complex and SPA for the residents of the city. In the room program the city required both 50 and 25 meter long swimming pools, a thermal and a children’s pool, with options to host televised FINA competitions with a grandstand for 1200 viewers with supplementary functionalities as restaurants, children’s care area, hairdresser saloon, VIP, and TV broadcasting box.

The building plot provided for the project is located next to a residential area of old soviet style precast-concrete housing blocks from the west side, form the south side, there is an old sports hall, from the east side there are football fields, while from the north there is an old gas station with a row of old ran down garages adjacent to it. The requirements and room program for the project required a large floor plan area, compared to the size of the project site. This required the design team to come up with a solution for a verticaly shifted space planning for our concept.

Concept and building mass

The main concept of the building and the design of building mass were designed to have a swimming pool that opens up to the surrounding area and shows an open, inviting hand towards the residents of the area. The main concept was to have a building, that is transparent and opens up to the public, not just to the swimmers and athletes. The front façade of the building is transparent, however when someone steps into the main hall of the building, the wall to the swimming pools is also transparent. The grandstand runs through the pool area and through the entry hall, out to the façade of the building, to invite the viewers, spectators and swimmers in. The dressing rooms for the trainees and racers are located on the ground floor, while to access the dressing rooms for the public or the spectator area, the visitors have to start walking up the grandstand, which is only divided by a transparent curtain wall from the interior.

The entry hall and the grandstand can also be used for a waiting area for the swimmers or for their parents or even for gatherings or exhibitions for the community. The hairdressing saloon, child area, restaurant are located here.
The main 50 meter long swimming pool is located on the ground floor with direct view from the grandstand. The 25 meter long training pool, the children’s pool and SPA are located on the first floor, vertically above the main pool, connected by a temporary stand and stairs, where the swimmers can relax on a regular day. The spa has an exterior sun terrace on the north-west side. The conference room, doctors office and the administrations offices are located on the ground floor. The building has a metal finish on the main exterior while the secondary functionalities on the ground floor are covered with perforated steel cladding. The roof of the interior and the “V” beams are covered in wood like cladding, that turn down to the grandstand and runs to the entry hall.

Ventilation and hydraulic engineering

The hydraulic engineering is located on the -1 floor, while the air ducts and electrical wiring is located inside the V beams and pillars, with a walkway inside them to access servicing to the lighting system of the pool. The pool area can be shaded to provide a reflection free environment for televised events.


We designed a new park to the north of the swimming pool complex to create a new meeting point for the community and to create a more attractive view from the interior of the pool instead of the view of the gas station area.

Péter Márkus

login to comment »