Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool - Edmonton (design, architecture)

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INTRO: The first hint that there is something unusual about the new outdoor swimming pool at Borden Park in Edmonton, Alberta is what isn’t there—that insidious but telltale odor of chlorine. This is because the 64,000- square-foot recreational complex, which includes a sandy beach, changing rooms, and plenty of space to soak up the sun, is Canada’s first “natural” public swimming facility. Instead of using chlorine or other chemicals for disinfection, it relies on the cleansing capabilities of sand, gravel, and carefully selected aquatic plants and organisms.

And the architecture provides its own subtle clues that something is different here. Natural materials are combined with a minimalist expression and inventive details to give the Borden Park Natural Swimming Pool a refined toughness not normally associated with a neighborhood swimming hole.

Designed by gh3 architecture, a Toronto firm whose practice encompasses both landscape and buildings at a range of scales and types, the $11 million project comprises two concrete pools that at first glance seem mostly conventional: a small, shallow one for toddlers, and a much larger, deeper one for older children and adults. Both are rectangular, with white bottoms and sides. But they are part of a planar landscape. Regardless of the depth, the water’s surface is flush with the deck all along the pools’ concrete perimeter, which in turn is level with the expanses of sand and other areas finished in wood plank. (MORE - details)

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