A recent project by French firm Mikou Design Studio is Valmorel Water Sports and Spa located in Savoie, France. Built in to a mountain, the Sports and leisure centra aims to be an emblematic major public amenity to attract local people and tourists.
“An emblematic, attractive swimming pool that blends with the landscape”
The Valmorel water sports and leisure centre aims to be an emblematic major public amenity that attracts people from the city and the surrounding region, and which can be identified by both the local people and by tourists. Therefore it entails a major urban planning challenge of creating a high-quality public space set in Valmorel’s outstanding landscape and an architectural challenge as regards its expression and its visibility.
“A spectacular, poetic esplanade that opens onto the surrounding landscape”
To extend the existing public square in front of the cable car and to free the view of the landscape from the pedestrian passage, we set the building into the mountain, as close as possible to nature and blending with it, by freeing an identifiable public esplanade on the square that looks onto the panoramic view and onto the strips of hardscaping and greenery around the outside of the swimming pool hall.
This public esplanade is a strong feature that clearly identifies the project.
Glazed metal rooflights of the swimming pool hall emerge from all over the ground of the esplanade. Designed as light cones that open the view from the esplanade onto the swimming pool hall, these rooflights allow pedestrians to visually move through the entire swimming pool hall from sequenced viewpoints. The internal surfaces of these light cones are painted blue, suggesting the colour of water to viewers on the esplanade. At night, fluorescent lamps placed on the underside inside the cones project blue light onto the esplanade, creating a spectacular, poetic atmosphere.
In the proposed scheme, the public esplanade created in this way represents Valmorel’s major urban space, which has a strong contemporary image while being respectful of the outstanding landscape that it reveals.
It is a truly public space, both for local people and for tourists, which acts as a viewing point looking onto the landscape and onto the strips of hardscaping and greenery around the outside of the pool hall. With benches placed around the perimeter and ground lights fitted into the layout pattern, this exceptional public space can be used both by day and by night.
The gently curving oval form of the esplanade corresponds to the flat roof of the swimming pool. With this configuration, the landscape can be admired through 360°.
Architect: Mikou Design Studio
Salwa Mikou, Selma Mikou, Cécile Jalby, Iskra Pencheva, Samiel Musolino, Dan Vavassori, Lorenzo Donati, Mickael Courtay
Client: City of Avanchers-Valmorel
Program: Polyvalent pool, Olympic pool, fitness, relaxation, interior and exterior solarium
Budget: 7.5 M €
Surface: 2 640 sqm
Location: les Avanchers-Valmorel, Savoie, France
Date: competition 2009
More projects of Mikou Design Studio on ArchiDE:
+ House of Arts and Culture by Mikou Design Studio, Beirut
+ Place Florence by MIKOU Design Studio, Fez, Morocco
+ Ratzburg Schools Campus by MIKOU Design Studio, Germany
Special thanks to Selma for sharing!