As so often in public buildings these days, a variety of uses is to be found behind the plain façade of Epicentre Glâne in Romont, a town in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. At the Romont facility, the GNWA architects combine three indoor swimming pools, wellness area, cafeteria and sports zone featuring fitness and gymnastics spaces with rehearsal and concert rooms for the Fribourg Music Academy. The building, the result of a 2015 competition won by GNWA in collaboration with Victor Figueras Corboud, replaces the disused swimming pool in the neighbouring school, but is easy to reach for the school students thanks to its location at the circulation axis linking the school with the Bicubic, a further multi-purpose building.
The architects made use of the sloping site to locate the swimming pools and respective technical equipment in the base of the building. The swimming area with its glazed façades thus seems to float above the ground, hiding the swimmers from the eyes of passers-by yet enabling visitors to nevertheless enjoy the views of the Alpine foothills. On the other hand the cafeteria, theory room and foyer are organised at street level. The centrally located changing rooms and sanitary facilities are for all users of the swimming, diving, paddling and training pools and also serve building services distribution. Visitors are able to reach the sport and music rooms on the upper floor via a choice of three staircases distributed in the floor plan in windmill-like fashion.
The double-height space in two of the swimming halls and the foyer supply these areas with natural light from above. The respective skylight strips not only set off the strikingly slanted timber roof trusses, clad in perforated acoustic panels, but also alleviate the hard character of the exposed concrete walls. In other rooms surfaces in exposed concrete also predominate on walls and ribbed ceilings, complemented by plain steel lockers, white tiling and the occasional acoustic ceiling in wood. The wellness area is the sole exception, being clad entirely in small blue mosaic tiles.
An in-depth essay on the topic of swimming pools is featured in Detail 9.2021.