Sportcomplex Koning Willem Alexander

Hoofddorp, Netherlands
Slangen+koenis Architecten
Plural, Swimming pool special programme

Sportcomplex Konig Willem-Alexander

The sound of sport

When building swimming pools, it can take quite some time until the right materials are found. In large halls with high humidity where it is also warm and stringent hygiene requirements need to be adhered to, the possibilities are rather limited. The Koning Willem-Alexander sports complex realised by architects Slangen+Koenis in Hoofddorp is not only an example of the outstanding durability of ceramic under extreme conditions – it also represents an innovative application in the area of acoustics.

The building is right on Provinzialstrasse and is the first of a stretch of new building projects extending along two kilometres. The development and the road are separated by a dam although urban development plans envisage some of the buildings being built into the latter. This has resulted in the sports complex being attributed an elongated shape. “We've tried to divide it up as much as possible to prevent it from appearing too overwhelming later”, explains Peter Baas of Slangen+Koenis. Each of the individual functions has been attributed a specific volume with varying heights which means the complex is reminiscent of an ensemble of boxes. It's easy to find your way from the entrance in the heart of the building: the “dry” sports are to the left, the “wet” bathing section is on the right, with the fitness and sauna areas above them. Go through the changing areas and you’ll find the large sports halls behind. “We tried to keep everything bright”, says Baas.

“Straight corridors, long visible lines. The entire 220 metre length of the building can be seen from the hall.” Ceramic tiles from Agrob Buchtal pervade the interior design. “We selected this product on account of the swimming pool area where stringent hygiene and safety guidelines apply. Floors must be easy to clean but should also offer sufficient grip. In order to create a uniform and tranquil design, we used the same tiles in the changing facilities and in the sports areas.” One particular feature of the tiles in the swimming pool is their acoustic application. Using a standard product – an inclined moulded part for shower tubs – the architects designed a 3D wall which diffusely reflects noise. Baas: “The idea evolved during the actual process.

It is possible to contain noise in sports facilities by securing perforated panels made of absorption material to the walls and ceilings. In the swimming pool speech zone, i.e. from the floor to a height of 2.5 metres, this is not possible on account of the humidity prevailing there. One tried-and-tested solution for this situation is to mount glass panels at an angle of only a few degrees thereby diverting sounds upwards. We realised this principle using tiles.”

Proven products were also used creatively in other areas. The numbers of the lanes in the competition pool, for example, are integrated in the floor using azure-blue non-slip tiles. “Specially designed for this project and unique in the Netherlands”, adds Richard Ypma of AGROB BUCHTAL, who asserts that this underlines the various qualities of the material. “Ceramic is resistant to temperatures and dirt, is color-fast and non-slip. I like to compare it to the Chinese porcelain recovered from sunken trading ships belonging to the Dutch East India Company. Although it had lain on the sea floor for five hundred years, you could still use it to set the table today. The same principle applies for these tiles. And ceramic is a natural product as well as being fully recyclable. This sustainability is particularly appropriate nowadays. And especially in an environment where only a few materials are actually possible – it represents the ultimate solution.”