Magnificent upgrade for Roskilde’s 1960s Swim hall

We speak to JAJA Architects project leader Brian Vargo about the Roskilde Waterscape project

The Roskilde Waterscape project will redevelop Roskilde’s 60-year-old indoor swimming pool in order to accommodate a range of new water activities. The project will transform the existing building into a complex that brings water, landscape and daylight into a cohesive spatial experience.


“We propose a diverse roof element that ties the entire complex – new and existing – into a cohesive architectural composition,” writes JAJA Architects. “A horizontal window band will frame the landscape whilst creating a strong visual connection between the exterior and interior water space. A series of green courtyards will enhance the experience by bringing daylight and nature into the heart of the swimming bath.”

Keen to know more, we asked JAJA project leader Brian Vargo some questions about how they came up with the design.

The redesigned swimming pool complex

The Murmur – We know the JAJA employed architectural principles, such as maintaining a visual connection between the interior and landscape, and a spatial relationship between buildings and landscape. But is there also an inherent minimalism to the design?

Brian Vargo – I would suggest a different way of describing the concept: The swimhall is organized between the two contradictory needs of creating a cohesive recreational environment and allowing each pool to have its best specific design. The conventional way to build a swimhall is to simply create a giant warehouse structure, but that would be insensitive to the interior environment of each pool. By creating a checkerboard courtyard scheme, each pool remains connected but has an environment of its own. This also maximizes daylight penetration for the interior, and creates bonus outdoor courtyard space, which is usually not possible in a swimhall.




TM – Which area are you most excited about seeing completed?

BV – Definitely the sauna. It’s totally removed from the fray with direct access to the outdoors and a cold plunge pool. How can life get any better? Plus you can see the underside of the water tower from that skylight. I’m looking forward to that view!

TM – Which area was a particular challenge?

BV – Pools are deceptively tricky. Not only do they have strange physical requirements and constraints related to interior temperature and humidity, but there are a lot of invisible factors below the surface that go into the design. Beyond the physical pool are a network of pipes that snake around each other to the main basement area. Since this was an addition to the existing swimhall, we had to be particularly mindful of where the existing plumbing was. There were very few options available in organising the addition. The clever aspect about the ‘courtyard’ scheme is that it leaves room for the subterranean plumbing while still constituting a comprehensive spatial concept above.

TM – Do you think this will inconvenience Roskilde Festival goers who use the swim hall for getting a warm shower?

BV – I hope not. If all else fails, they can take a dip in the water tower upstairs.

TM – If you could change or add something to the project what would it be.

BV – I would have liked to incorporate the water tower more directly. It’s such an oddity that it is almost impossible to repurpose to another use. But maybe that’s on the way in a future phase.




The project will begin next month. Photos from Ja Ja Artikekts. M


By Samer Khudairi

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