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BIG, Aarhus Harbor Bath

Water in Public Space: Aarhus Harbor Bath by BIG

As an element, water has always played a vital role in the history of urban planning. The first cities arose in direct proximity to open sources of water. People needed water for many purposes of everyday life; indeed, for many businesses the exchange and transport of goods would have been impossible without waterways. Moreover, public watering places had an inherent social function. Wells and bathhouses were significant meeting places in social life. Therefore, it is no wonder that water features are still important attractions – we need only think of Rome’s Fontana di Trevi.

It is not only the watering places that we have created that are relevant to urban planning, but natural bodies of water as well. The Aarhus Harbor Bath project by BIG combines the latter with the social function of public watering places. In the middle of the O4 harbour district in Aarhus, they have developed a 2,600-m² swimscape featuring a 50-m pool, a children’s pool, a round diving basin and two saunas located beneath the promenade and the observation platform.

Against the background of the historical significance of watering places in the context of urban planning, BIG have exploited both the artistic and the social potential of water in order to advance the expansion of public space in an area of Aarhus once characterized by industry.

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