Gigantium is a sports and cultural centre in Aalborg comprising a large arena, sports halls and two ice-skating rinks. The newly built swimming baths bring the total area of the complex to 35,000 square metres.

Photo: Thomas Mølvig, architect

During the winter months in particular, visitors can experience stunningly beautiful sunrises in Gigantium’s new swimming baths. The light slowly fills the room as the first rays of sunshine strike the water and the walls of the vast open space. The reflections from the water are cast upwards onto the expansive ceiling and the immense laminated beams that span the basins. For a few minutes, the low sun fills the enormous space, which is almost as voluminous as a small cathedral. This is architecture at its best.

In fact, light is one of the cornerstones of this particular project. The large east-facing glass facade accentuates the building’s wave-like shape, letting in lots of daylight and offering uninterrupted views of the outside. Perforated corrugated metal panels act as a light curtain, filtering out the bright light. The south-facing facade is less open on account of the large roof, which spans the pools and extends almost to ground with its wide overhang. It screens the sunshine, but it is still possible to enjoy the views through the window sections along the entire length of the building. To the west, the facade peaks in height next to the children’s pools.

The other Gigantium buildings are more inward-looking, as a result of their functions as skating rinks, sports halls and concert venue. It is therefore a really big bonus for the entire facility that the swimming baths open up towards the views and the landscape. At the same time, the wave-shaped facade creates a strong visual profile that stands out from a distance. Gigantium has a new and distinctive component that very convincingly signals dynamism, sport and play.

The big wave shape

The wave-shaped building was designed by the architectural firm Kjaer & Richter, which has clearly embraced the challenge and devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the design of the building as a whole as well as the details. Outside, the facades are clad with aluminium composite panels for an attractive finish that reflects the colours of the sky, emphasising the wave shape that culminates above the pools.

The swimming centre is basically divided into two sections – a functional section and a pool section. The functional section backs onto the ice rink and the new foyer. It contains all the service functions such as ticket sales, café, changing rooms and wellness, while the pools overlook the landscape to the south and east.

Troldtekt dampens noise

There are four main pools, of which three are placed beneath the large unifying roof structure. To the east is the diving pool, with north Jutland’s only indoor five-metre diving board, and which is closely connected to a large 25-metre competition pool. A small warm pool is located to the south, while the children’s area with a large waterslide and elephant showers is located furthest to the west.

In the middle is a striking cast-in-situ concrete family sauna, which doubles as a vantage point from where you can survey the entire room. The wellness area is set back on the upper level, with jacuzzis, a sauna, a steam bath and a cold tub. There are also conference rooms which can accommodate large functions.

Morten Hvilsom Larsen, the daily manager, is very happy with the new facilities: “Our lifeguards enjoy working in this modern and well-designed facility, where every effort has been made to ensure a good overview. In the past, acoustics were often a problem in swimming baths, but we fortunately have cement-bonded wood wool on our ceilings and walls. This dampens the noise considerably, which is greatly appreciated by both staff and visitors.”