In the interplay of colour, material, place and space, the Stuttgart-based 4a Architects have been sensitively creating atmospheric water worlds since 1990. The pools and spas offer a wide range of functionality, depending on the mood their architecture creates - for learning how to swim and for club sports and competition, for public health, for recreation, relaxation and to sauna in a wellness landscape. In times of climate change and tight municipal budgets, 4a Architects integrate efficient and clever technical solutions to achieve economical, but resilient quality and feel-good atmospheres. The exhibition Swimming in Atmosphere is dedicated to the versatility of today's swimming pool and spa architectures on the example of twelve realised and planned projects. Among them are the Freizeitbad Stegermatt in Offenburg, which was developed cooperatively with the local population, the wellness complex of the Emser Therme with hotel in Bad Ems, the energy-autonomous Hallenbad Oppenheim and the renovated Mineralbad Berg in Stuttgart with its 1950s charme.
Therme Wien, Wien, DE; 4a Architects. © Cathrine Stukhard | Mineralbad Berg, Stuutgart, DE; 4a Architects. © Uwe Ditz
With their pool and spa buildings, 4a Architects are among the studios that make architecture for people - as architect Günter Behnisch, mentor of the office founders, once put it. Swimming pools and sports facilities in general, are an important part of social and health infrastructures. Among other services, they offer a place for encounter interaction or competition and can prevent exercise deficiencies in children, young people and adults of all social groups. For municipalities, swimming pools are therefore an important offer to the citizens.
Freizeitbad Stegermatt, Offenburg, DE; 4a Architects. © Uwe Ditz | VitaSol Therme, Bad Salzuflen, DE; 4a Architects. © Uwe Ditz
4a's projects - from sports pools to wellness complexes - have one thing in common: they are characterised by a special feel-good atmosphere and thus enable relaxation or activation, depending on the pool and concept. Many variables shape the atmosphere of a building, and only a few can be measured. In a swimming pool or thermal spa, all senses want to be addressed. Acoustics, temperature, materiality, light and colour – 4a Architects use these elements to design the quality of the visitors stay. This is not only about the interior design, but also about the embedding of the buildings in the surrounding landscape. Their choice of façade materials, for example, often stems directly from the local environment and ressources, and is thus part of the guiding principle of every design. At the same time, their constructions make a decisive contribution to the individual atmosphere of each of their projects, evoking generosity, lightness and elegance.
Stutenseebad, Stutensee, DE; 4a Architects. © David Matthiessen | Therme Lindau, Lindau am Bodensee, DE; 4a Architects. © David Matthiessen
Despite all the joy of design, for 4a Architects it is important that the pools are also economical. For clients and operators, efficient functionality is the most important factor. For the architects, formal coherence and positive appropriation is also important - so they are responsible for both. Among other things, the exhibition explores precisely this question: How is it possible to develop atmospheric pools and spas from the point of view of economic efficiency? In addition to design as a key factor to succeed in whether a swimming infrastructure is accepted or not, the durability of construction, materials and technology plays a decisive role. The 4a Architect's experience with the function and economy of pools and thermal spas ultimately forms the basis for the composition of the atmosphere.
Freizeitbad Stegermatt, Offenburg, DE; 4a Architects. © Uwe Ditz | Mineralbad Berg, Stuttgart, DE; 4a Architects. © Uwe Ditz
Swimming in Atmosphere shows the diversity of today's swimming pools and spas: from school pools to thermal spas, from sports pools to wellness facilities. On the example of twelve selected projects, the range is examined in detail with models, plans and photos, and the key questions of swimming pool architecture are discussed. In short video statements, the architects also explain what drives them in their design work.
Hallenbad Oppenheim, DE, in planning
Kombibad Hirschbach, Aalen, DE, under construction
Sanierung Mineralbad Berg, Stuttgart, DE, 2016-2020
Therme Lindau, Lindau am Bodensee, DE, 2018-2021
Sanierung Solebad Bad Wimpfen, DE, 2019-2021
Sanierung Bade- und Freizeitpark Kusel, DE, 2017-2020
Sanierung Freibad Sigmaringen, DE, 2019-2020
Stutenseebad, Stutensee, DE, 2016-2018
Freizeitbad Stegermatt, Offenburg, DE, 2015-2017
Emser Therme, Bad Ems, DE, 2011-2012
Therme Wien, AT, 2007-2011
Sanierung Vitasol Therme, Bad Salzuflen, DE, 2008-2009
About 4a Architects
In addition to pool and spa architecture, which makes up the majority of their oeuvre, 4a Architects from Stuttgart have, in the course of their existence since 1990, realised new construction and refurbishment projects in the fields of commerce and trade, as well as culture and education, both in Germany and abroad. Today, led by four partners, the focus of the 40-strong team is on dealing with the emotional impact of spaces.
In 2007, the Aedes Architecture Forum presented the first monographic exhibition We Go Swimming – Water Worlds + by 4a Architects.
An Aedes catalogue will be published.
> Order here from 15 December 2023