Naval Operation School Bremerhaven

Bremerhaven, Germany
Immobilien Bremen AÖR
Chroma unglasiert, Emotion, System Finnland II

Naval Operation School:

A pool of a different kind

As a central Bundeswehr training facility for operative activities on ships and boats, the Naval Operation School in Bremerhaven has had a new rescue and water training hall since early 2015 in which a wide range of courses are held, in particular on the appropriate conduct by mobile staff in emergencies on the high seas. The new building offers two separate training areas which look practically the same at first glance. Not only are they practically identical in terms of design, the room size and pool dimensions are almost the same, and in both cases, an expansive glass facade ensures plenty of natural daylight. There are, however, major differences in terms of use. Swim training and instructions on the rescue facilities available on board naval vessels (inflatable life rafts, abandonment suits, life jackets etc.) take place in the smaller rescue training hall while the somewhat larger pool in the water training hall serves as a facility for “Open Sea Survival Training” – survival training for emergency situations such as emergency landings on water by aircraft or helicopters.

In view of these particular applications, it was obvious that it would not suffice to merely consider the requirements of conventional bathing facilities. In fact, the aim was to find durable, functional, safe and easy-to-clean surface solutions capable of complying with the requirements of training operations taking place on a practically daily basis. The fact that this aspect is not glaringly obvious on entering the indoor pools is not least attributable to a colour and material concept carefully designed by the architects. While they consciously direct focus away from the walls and roof construction using standardised white and light grey colours for surfaces, they attached particular importance to a low-key, elegant yet durable design for the functional areas around the pools which are invariably intensively used.

The pool rim, for example, is subject to particularly extensive use. As rescue exercises usually involve activities by the course participants in and out of the water in full gear while possibly carrying steel cables, shackles and carbines, the ceramic pool edge (Finland II system) was designed in such a way that individual moulded tiles can be easily replaced if damaged. Another feature is the unusually wide and deep overflow channel which proves to be particularly resistant and easy to clean thanks to its ceramic panelling. Its larger size was necessary in order to cope with the surge-like water volumes arising when the “METS” (Modular Egress Training Simulator) attached to a crane track is immersed into the pool which is six metres deep. This replica of an aircraft hull enables the recruits to familiarise themselves under realistic conditions with the life-saving equipment available on board.

The dark anthracite-coloured tiles on the pool rims (Emotion series, R11/B non-slip) were selected by the architects for two main reasons: on the one hand, the inevitable abrasion by soles is practically invisible on these durable ceramic surfaces which are resistant to wear and chemicals. On the other hand, their stony and earthy texture as well as representative large formats lend the otherwise functionally-equipped pool areas an exceedingly pleasant atmosphere. The same also applies for the entrance area and stairwells as well as for changing rooms, showers and workshops where these tiles are also used. Easy floor cleaning is ensured by the horizontal cove skirting in the transition area between floors and walls.

Photographer: Jochen Stüber