An Architectural Organism

architects Branimir Medić, Pero Puljiz
project Noorderparkbad Swimming Pool, Amsterdam, Netherlands
written by Mira Stanić


The character of Amsterdam Noord is greatly marked by workers’ settlements, the so-called garden villages (Dutch: Tuindorpen) whose nucleus is in the housing policy introduced in the early 20th century in order to ensure adequate housing for workers. In the social-democratic spirit, such housing, enriched by picturesque planning with lots of natural light and green areas, should have contributed to personal and social well-being of the working class. In this tradition of conscious spatial planning, in place of the existing but dilapidated swimming pool, a family pool Noorderparkbad designed by de Architekten Cie. emerged – a pavilion in the park, which is reminiscent of spas or hammams, that is, of bathing establishments where the local population meets. The very first contact with the pool is very tactile – a curtain of metal mesh is an unstable envelope whose materiality depends on external conditions. If the day is shiny, it will twinkle and filter the light, in winter, it will stiffen under a layer of ice, and the rain will turn it into a neat, serene waterfall that directly shows the cycle of gray water – rainwater flows down the curtain, it is collected and filtered in order to be used again as pool water, one of the low-energy strategies used. The curtain rises to indicate the entrance or transmit more light, and reveals the brick facade that defines the rounded volume.