Brochet Lajus Pueyo has completed a swimming pool in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, France, with a roof informed by waves and the movements of manta rays.
Bordeaux-based studio Brochet Lajus Pueyo won a public competition to design the aquatic centre for the local municipality in the Vendée region of western France.
Positioned on the outskirts of a residential area on the Vie river, the public pool looks out towards an uninterrupted panoramic view of the landscape.
When viewed from a distance, only the organic form of the main building's roof can be seen balancing lightly upon its delicate supporting framework.
"The roof is expressed as three 'petals', floating above ground," said the studio. "The reasoned form of the structure evokes the movement of water, or the undulations of a manta ray moving."
The lightweight steel lattice that extends around the building's perimeter ensures the interior is uninterrupted by supporting columns and allows the roof to appear as an independent element held above the landscape.
The design allows large expanses of glazing measuring up to 11 metres in height to flood the pool's main hall with daylight, which is filtered through the criss-crossed structure.
The transparent main hall adjoins an opaque concrete volume containing services including changing rooms and technical equipment.
Amenities including two saunas and a Turkish bath are also accommodated in this block alongside the pools.
The tone of this building's concrete exterior echoes that of the surrounding earth and helps it to blend in with the landscape.
The northern side of the structure is partly submerged in the ground to further enhance its connection with the site.
The hall's roof is created from 1,400 micro-perforated triangles that are connected using concealed fastenings to form a seamless surface.
The curving roof extends beyond the glazed curtain wall to shade the interior from the intense summer sun, with the glazing carefully positioned to ensure maximum transparency while minimising reverberation and noise.
The various pools are arranged linearly to ensure they enjoy the best outlook towards the neighbouring nature reserve. An outdoor pool and terrace are also positioned to the south of the main hall so that they receive the best of the sunlight.
Ceilings and walls within the building's public areas are lined with wooden battens, while paved flooring introduces another natural finish to the interior.
Angular skylights allow daylight to reach some of the rooms at the centre of the building, including the changing rooms and shower areas, where the light reflects off blue tiled surfaces.
Photography is by Jean-François Tremege.
Lead architects: Brochet Lajus Pueyo
Architects in charge: Paul-Louis Imbaud, Raphaël Masnada
Associate architect: DGA Architectes & Associés
Landscape: Let's Grow
Cost estimator: Overdrive
Structural engineer: Khephren Ingienerie, CESMA
Mechanical electrical plumbing engineer: ETHIS
Roads and various networks: Alto Step
Client: Communauté de Communes du Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie