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12.10.2021 - Ausgabe: 5/2021

New family baths in Rahlstedt

By Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Sybille Eisfelder (bs2architekten gmbh)

© Fa. Roigk

The district of Rahlstedt is located in the north-east of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. On the one hand, it is the most populous district of the Hanseatic city; on the other hand, the catchment area of its baths extends beyond the state border into southern Schleswig-Holstein due to its location on the outskirts of the city.

Demographic developments and the notorious northern German weather have led to a steady decline in the attractiveness of the summer outdoor pool. Aquatic facilities that can be used all year round for swim lessons, school swimming, organized sports and popular sports as well as recreational activities have been increasingly in demand since the 1960s. In line with this long-standing strategy, Bäderland, as the operator of the municipal swimming pools, has developed a site modernisation concept. This provided for the summer outdoor pool, which is open for the season on average for only about 50 days a year, to be moved from a totally peripheral location to the centrally located indoor pool site with good access to public transportation in the heart of Rahlstedt. In conjunction with concrete restoration, the existing baths in the classic 1970s style, which only consisted of a 25-metre multi-purpose pool and a swimming pool designated for swim lessons without outdoor facilities, were gutted and rebuilt on a large scale, modernised and given a fresh, contemporary look. In a first step, the aquatic facility was extended to include a multifunctional course hall with a movable floor. Following lengthy consultations with politicians, administrative bodies, schools, sports clubs and citizens' groups, the summer outdoor pool was shut down in 2020 upon completion of a year-round outdoor pool with sunbathing area and attractive splash pad.  Two unattractive individual pools were transformed into the modern and sustainable Rahlstedt family baths.

While the year-round outdoor pool with a water depth of 1.3 metres and five lanes is heated and open all year round, another attractive outdoor play area with water play features for children was to complement the range of activities in the summer months. Since two children's slides already provide hours of fun in the indoor area, the outdoor area was to feature attractions of its own.

As the outdoor area is enclosed by old, tall trees and the course of the Wandse river, the outdoor facilities were compactly arranged next to the existing pool. This made it possible to create a spacious sunbathing area directly at the splash pad, which can be used by bathers in the summer months and on sunny days during the off-season (March / April and September / October). The site sloping towards the Wandse river was used to accommodate the new water technology in a separate technical building in the basement and to provide lavatories for outdoor pool use on the ground floor. In the south of the complex, a gabion wall about 1.5 metres high shields the bathers from the wind and prying eyes of passers-by from the nearby public footpath and cycle path of the adjacent public park. These paths run on both sides of the open spaces and are bordered on the Wandse side by a tree-covered earth mound.

In order to be able to cater for different age groups, the splash pad's floor space of approx. 110m² was divided into several zones. An area for older children, for example, offers more action-packed play opportunities with a water cannon and artificial seaweed elements behind which the children can hide. This "loop cannon" alternates with a water attraction at a height of about 2 metres, which can also be used as a basketball hoop. When the water jets are activated, the ball is flushed out of the basket, which then forms a spraying water goblet. 

Next to this area, a water seesaw was placed that sprinkles water at varying ranges depending on whether the nozzles are open or closed, and allows the children to bounce on large air balls. 

A flamingo and a water beetle, which are approx. 50 to 100 cm high, were provided for the younger children, presenting an attractive play opportunity for this age group.

The youngest ones rather prefer a quiet play zone with jets close to the ground. A water tunnel allows the children to crawl through the tunnel without getting wet or to walk through it from all sides. 

The highlight of the splash pad, visible from afar, is the 3.6-metre-high water flower. It was placed in the middle because of its long range. Both the self-activating sprinkler flower and the tilting flower are ever-popular attractions. Especially the water dump effect of the tilting flower is unpredictable due to the flower’s central suspension. The children have to guess whether the flower is tilting to the left or to the right and position themselves accordingly. The water flower’s drop height of approximately 3.6 metres with a water volume of about 25 litres proves to be a well-balanced solution that does not entail any hazards even when used accidentally.

In order to minimize the risk of injury, the surfacing is made of 30mm thick PU coating. The coating distinguishes itself through its UV resistance and excellent slip resistance. The top layer is three-coloured and made of solid-coloured, abrasion-resistant EPDM rubber granules. 

Directly adjacent, concrete block steps were used to provide seating accommodation for parents and children on three sides, separating the splash pad from the pool perimeter of the outdoor pool on the higher level. 

Additional ground anchors have already been installed to allow for future optional expansion of the splash pad. As all the water play features have the same anchor system, they can be interchanged and supplemented with new items at a later date. In this way, it is possible to have a constantly changing range of attractions. As an additional service, the manufacturer also offers to buy back used water play features.

As the building site is located near the Wandse river, it was decided to provide a frost-protected foundation for the floor slab by using subconcrete.

This then served as the installation level for the water supply lines and the assembly and adjustment of the anchor plates for the water play features. 

It was decided to have a contractor install the water play features and apply the coating. This proved to be very advantageous, especially in terms of scheduling. Since construction processes had to be postponed due to adverse weather conditions and finally even a tent was required for the final coating, the decision to have only one contractor do the work proved to be the preferable option on the whole. 

Unfortunately, the facility could not be opened until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it is already very popular with kindergarten and primary school children and is an attractive addition to the overall concept. 



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