The Aqua Leisure Center in Val de Scarpe, Aquarena Arras, French Pool Building
Aqua Leisure Center in Val de Scarpe, France : Arras Building
Val de Scarpe building – design by SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture
17 Sep 2012
The Aqua Leisure Center in Val de Scarpe, Arras
Design: SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture
The Aqua Leisure Center in Val de Scarpe, Arras puts a new twist on age-old pleasures, like a modern Tivoli. After Quimper, Béthune, Laon and Bordeaux, S.AREA Alain Sarfati Architecture presents Aquarena.
The creation of an aqua leisure center provided an opportunity to organize the region around these new facilities that are the pride of Arras. The center is placed so as to be seen from the bridge that spans the river Scarpe, the new entryway into the city.
The pleasures and playfulness of water were the guiding principle for an aqua leisure center that is at once modern and rooted in tradition.
From ancient baths to modern spas, water is present in all of its forms: as a means for exercise, family recreational activities and well-being.
Alain Sarfati has created a metaphorical and poetic structure, redefining an architecture in synch with nature and the people who use it. The bioclimatic dimension of the structure lies in its optimized orientation and location.
Pearl, mother-of-pearl, seashells and the warm waters of the sea are all there. Light dances and plays on surfaces, creating shimmering, iridescent effects and elusive, ethereal hues that sometimes glow softly, sometimes sparkle and flash.
The seashell, with all its evocative mystery, opens a world of forms, colors and enchantment between pure, flowing waters and drifting clouds – like a modern version of ancient water pleasure games. The golden hues, rich with cultural and natural references, recalls the charm of the Budapest baths and the Vienna of Klimt.
The project for the construction of an aqua leisure center in the Val de Scarpe called for the creation of an educational and recreational space as well as a place dedicated to health and well-being.
– Entrance with reception area: welcome desk, place for strollers, rest rooms, etc.
– Administrative rooms and offices
Water sports and recreational space at ground level:
– Locker rooms for visitors and school groups
– A pool dedicated to water sports
– A pool dedicated to recreational activities
– A space for children: playground and wading pool
– Pool with 64-meter slide
– Ancillary rooms: control room, equipment and supplies storage, first aid
– Mechanical area
Health/Well-being space at upper level:
– Welcome area
– Locker rooms, showers, rest rooms, etc.
– A wet zone: Turkish bath, saunas, spa, showers, relaxation lounge, etc.
– A dry zone: cardio-training, physical training, etc.
– Spaces dedicated to personnel and maintenance staff
– A beauty Institute: massages, algae wraps, sunning rooms, beauty treatments, etc.
– Mechanical area
Statement of Intent
The pleasures and playfulness of water were the guiding principle for an aqua leisure center that is at once modern and rooted in tradition. From ancient baths to modern spas, water is present in all of its forms: as a means for exercise, family recreational activities or personal body care. The space had to be unique in terms of its facilities, architecture and location. Intended to be a place for people to come together, it had to be attractive and appealing, inciting people to come, discover, and come back again, exploring a new aspect each time. The modernity of the building and facilities lies in their capacity to inspire, providing an ideal space for reverie. Far from a “palm tree” exoticism, the structure is intended to stand as a poetic metaphor, offering an architecture that is in synch with nature and the people who use it. To ensure that the project and its realization fulfilled its intended role, we have gone above and beyond mere decor or the thematic, however rich. From the very start of the design process, we sought to draw upon an inexhaustible world of imaginative metaphor, so that pleasure may be experienced ever anew, free of artifice.
Pearl, mother-of-pearl, seashells and the warm waters of the sea are all there. Light dances and plays on surfaces, creating shimmering, iridescent effects and elusive, ethereal hues that are sometimes soft and glowing, sometimes a fleeting flicker.
Like a seashell partly embedded in the sand, partly exposed to the sky, a mysterious object at once concealed and revealed, it opens up a whole new world of forms and colors, an enchanted world somewhere between pure, flowing waters and drifting clouds – a symbol of the modern pleasures of water.
The creation of an aqua leisure center provided an opportunity to organize the region around these new facilities that are the pride of Arras. Like the new vistas recently created in the city center, Aquarena is strategically placed to be seen from the bridge that spans the river Scarpe, the new entryway into Arras.
A planted promenade leading to the gardens of the Musée de la Nature gives on to several other attractions besides the museum itself and the aqua leisure center: rides, food court and bowling alley – a logical extension of the flurry of activity at the ride park.
The architecture is site-specific, with pool-sides strategically placed at the south and west, bringing in the maximum amount of light while occupying the least amount of space. The regularity of the structure reinforces any asymmetries and the curves of the roof, which the undulating dropped ceilings echo and follow.
The decor has both an acoustic and pictorial dimension. The seashell fossil recalls the presence of the sea which covered the site in times immemorial – an evocation that escapes the realm of the senses. The sounds of the sea will serve as the basis for a music track specifically composed for the site, with a broad range of expression. Close attention is paid to each space – from the locker rooms to the swimming pools to the spa – in order to echo the rhythm of each with an appropriate intensity of sound, ranging from a whisper to the crunch of footsteps in the sand to the energetic pulse of body building.
The images too are a reflection of each space, now intense and powerful, now subtle. Both dimensions come together to witness a reawakening of the world, a keen awareness of the body and a full embrace of nature in all of its forms.
The Aqua Leisure Center in Val de Scarpe Arras – Building Information
Location: Arras, Pas-de-Calais
Owner: Communauté Urbaine d’Arras, La citadelle, boulevard du général de Gaulle, CP 10345, 62026 ARRAS cédex
Prime Contractor: SAREA ALAIN SARFATI ARCHITECTURE, Representing Architect, Paris, France
Head Architects: Nathalie Bara, Caroline Gehu, Christian Laquerrière
Assistant Architect: Béryl Lasfargue
Engineering firm: CET Ingénierie
Acoustical contractor: SERIAL
Technical control: SOCOTEC
Health and Safety control: DEKRA
Fire safety control: SASTEC
Surface area: 4,896.77 m²
Shon budget: € 14 M excl. tax
Schedule – Contest: 2006 ; Studies: 2007-08 ; Completion: Jun 2012
Aqua Leisure Center in Val de Scarpe images / information from SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture
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image © SANAA / Imrey Culbert / Catherine Mosbach
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Website: Val de Scarpe, Arras