The Emerald Hills Leisure Centre is designed to deliver county-wide ‘Learn to Swim’and ‘Wellness programs to Strathcona County’s growing population, in partnership with an adjoining school. The program includes a 6-lane 25-metre lap pool, adjustable floor therapy pool for seniors aquafit, tot pool, whirl pool and steam room. The new facility features a fully transparent gender-neutral universal changeroom, accessible and inclusive for all. The aquatic hall and lobby are conceived of as a singular sculpted volume that defines the new social hub of the community.
Existing gymnasia, auditoria and classrooms of the school are shared with the Aquatic Centre to create a vibrant evening community centre for the greater community. The building takes advantage of views and prominence to the adjacent storm water pond and landscaped courtyard. Materials and finishes had to suit the corrosive humid conditions of the pool hall, and provide acoustics and ease of maintenance. The client required the building to visually symbolize health and wellness for the growing community and met the values and palate of the diverse demographics.
The municipality was also interested in maximizing the wall construction efficiency and thermal performance. The design team discussed the importance of controlling glare for ease of instruction and glazed areas were minimized to save energy and cost. The amount of glazing is specifically located low at deck level for views to landscaped areas to the west, and located high on the front elevation to bounce light off the ceiling structure, resulting in maximum low-glare lighting distribution. The building’s trapezoidal plan is created by maximizing the footprint to site setbacks.
The geometry and material datum of the architecture are directly translated to the interior, developing clear ceiling and floor plane divisions, simplifying views, and creating wayfinding strategies, while providing ideal contrast requirements for accessibility. The triangulated roof form translates to a group of triangulated ceiling planes that fit together and cover the aquatics hall and public lobby. The angled triangle planes change with the light qualities through the different times of day and seasons.
The ceiling is detailed and carefully coordinated to meet acoustical performance and is modular, allowing the facility manager to replace tiles with ease, when required.The bold contrasting interior charcoal datum is a graphic textile-like lining of the exterior precast cladding. The graphic is conceived of the refractive qualities of light hitting water – creating simple geometric forms. The mosaic tile pattern required close coordination by interior designers and tiles manufacturers to produce an optimized installation strategy allowing the non-repetitive pattern to be installed at such an expanse.