'Swimming in the forest': Architects win competition for Quebec's woodland aquatics centre

A joint venture between Canadian studios HCMA Architecture + Design and NFOE et Associés Architectes have won a design competition to create a striking circular aquatics centre in Laval, Quebec – designed to create an experience of “swimming within a forest.”

The competition jury had called for submissions imagining the new Complexe Aquatique de Laval as a vital civic centre, subtly integrated into the site’s woodland ecosystem.

Tucked into an existing clearing adjacent to an urban forest, the winning design concept is inspired by a close relationship with nature. Glass walls and skylights will allow filtered and dappled natural light to enter, and a a “natural” roof terrace and controlled glass openings will enhance this open-air feeling.

Three primary pools – a recreational pool, a competitive 50m pool, and a 25m dive tank – will be configured around these features in a way that enables swimmers to feel like they’re swimming surrounded by the natural world. Interior pathways will offer unexpected views toward the pools and the exterior forest.

Facilities inside will include a public plaza serviced by the proposed ground level café. Permanent and temporary spectator seating is available and each benefits from the exposure to natural light and the experience of being within the forest.

“We are tremendously honoUred by the opportunity to further explore and develop aquatic architecture on this special site in Laval,” said Darryl Condon, principal designer for the project and managing principal at HCMA, in response to the competition win. “The building is not next to nature, it is part of it. Its shape, structure and skin are designed to celebrate the forest.

“The destination facility will offer a unique experience for recreation and competitive swimmers alike. The team looks forward to seeing it come to life in the coming years.”

The facility has ambitious sustainability goals and targets LEED Gold certification, maximising energy-efficiency as well as water conservation. Wood will be highlighted within through both structure and finishes.

Engineering firm Les Services will build the centre, and Projet Paysage Inc will provide the landscape design.

Aquatics centre  Complexe Aquatique de Laval  Quebec  Canada  architecture  design 
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A joint venture between Canadian studios HCMA Architecture + Design and NFOE et Associés Architectes have won a design competition to create a striking circular aquatics centre in Laval, Quebec – designed to create an experience of “swimming within a forest.” The competition jury had called for submissions imagining the new Complexe Aquatique de Laval as a vital civic centre, subtly integrated into the site’s woodland ecosystem. Tucked into an
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The design competition jury had called for submissions imagining the new complex as a vital civic centre, subtly integrated into the woodland ecosystem / City of Laval/v2com
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