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On most days, Hofbad aquatic centre is a multifunctional swimming facility with a range of use options for all residents of The Hague and environs. One of the pools is an indoor 50-metre pool with a huge grandstand, so it is also used for national and international swimming, diving and water polo competitions. That means that on such days all eyes here are on sporting performance and competition. The building is designed for easy

and straightforward conversion to use for either purpose. But the building is also unique from an environmental perspective. Its state-of-the-art insulation, rooftop energy generation and extremely sustainable systems make it extremely energyefficient.

The building is also intended as the first element of a unique ensemble, with the residential towers still to be built forming the crowning touch. Under the building’s scaly skin lies an airy, almost organic inner world, a subtle allusion to the physical side of the activities that take place here. This organic idiom is the guiding principle behind the design of all the interior elements. The main construction of the swimming pool areas, for example, with their overhead beams and crossbeams suggesting the shape of a ribcage, or, perhaps more literally, a backbone with ribs.

This principle is carried through from the large competition pool down to the small children’s pools, in each case with the dimensions adjusted to the functional requirements. This overriding structure guarantees a rhythmic theme throughout the space and a clear, identifiable structure, underscored in part by the natural light and the many lines of sight connecting the activities with each other and the building with its  surroundings. The air conditioning cabinets are housed in the ‘backbone,’ and are equipped with a direct connection to the swimming pool rooms through a set of extra ‘ribs,’ to allow even distribution of fresh air.

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