The story of the new Kennedy Town Swimming Pool development by Farrells in Hong Kong spans eight years in entirety, but this month will see the doors open for the first time between both phases of the project — meaning the community can finally make a splash
For Farrells' project design director Patrick Yue, the construction of the Kennedy Town Swimming Pool was more than just another development. Yue actually grew up in residences behind the site on which it now proudly sits, and remembers a time when the land was simply ocean, before it became reclaimed.
"The piece of land was very hard to use as it is trapezoidal/triangular. When you come to the pool from Central, the impact of the building is quite dramatic, and that's what we focused on the most; the sense of arrival at the pool. The way it sort of hovers down above the ground — people call it a spaceship or a shell, or things like that — is how we actually conceived the building, as something quite stunning," he explains as he walks us
through the space.
"We wanted to keep the building looking very sculptural in a way, so we have a very singular shaped form that has then been lifted off the ground. The ground level is actually quite transparent, it's all glass which enhances the idea that it is floating. It's still very sensitive to the neighbourhood though.
"Another reason it is designed the way it is, is because we were trying to be sensitive to the residential buildings next to the site. We didn't want to block their view, so we actually pushed the building down quite a bit."
The team decided to craft the project using zinc, a natural and sustainable material that actually heals itself when scratched. Another advantage of building in zinc was minimising the glare for residential complexes adjacent to the site. Had it been crafted from normal coated metal instead, the reflection would certainly impact on the neighbouring buildings, so the matt finish is easier on the eye.
"There aren't many zinc buildings in Hong Kong, and I think that it is one of the largest in the region. Another reason we chose it is because we knew the complex would be built in two phases and that there would be two years between them both. If you just use a paint-finished metal, then often the UV light will get to it and make the colour change, but zinc oxidises because it's natural, so the material still looks the same, despite the years between the phases. There is still a slight deviation in colour, but hopefully over time, it will all look the same."
The design enquiry into Phase Two, which includes two new indoor heated pools, measuring 50 and 25 metres' length respectively, as well as a Jacuzzi, was started by questioning what the ideal condition was for an indoor pool.
"We had this picture of a beach; I mean, a beach is great, right? Lots of natural light, you can feel what the weather is doing, you get the views, just like what we have here with the views of the harbour. So we wanted the indoor pool to be filled with light. Now that's really easy to do with an outdoor pool, but there are more problems when you are working indoors with things like glare, reflections and heat getting in."
This is an excerpt from the “Swimming site specific" article from the April 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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