Emerald Hills Aquatics Centre
Strathcona County, Alberta
Client : Strathcona County
Area : 54,000
Program : 25m 8-Lane Lap Pool, 25m 4-Lane Teaching Pool with Movable Floor, Leisure Pool, Whirlpool / Changerooms /, Multi-Purpose Community Rooms.
Completion : July 2016
ISSUU Link : https://issuu.com/mjmarchitects/docs/emerald_hills_leisure_centre
Associated Architects : MTa
Located in a suburban retail area of Strathcona, Alberta, the Emerald Hills Leisure Centre is an aquatics learning environment shared by the contiguous high school and the greater community, including a nearby hospital complex. In serving these groups, the Centre is a model for successful partnership between schools and wellness facilities.
To act as a new community landmark, the Centre has a highly identifiable exterior, with massing shaped by the large, single volume that comprises the lobby and aquatics hall, and a footprint that conforms to the trapezoidal site’s boundaries. Visually complex, this single volume is a sophisticated reinterpretation of the “big box” typology that maximizes both affordability and visual impact; its outer shell of triangular facets, clad in standing seam panels, is peaked to optimize its interior volume. Along the western façade, wide, slanting sections of glazing are incised at deck level to offer views of the landscape, giving the impression that one corner of the building mass has been lifted off the ground, while a wedge-shaped clerestory dominates the structure’s northwest corner, positioned to maximize reflection off the faceted white ceiling for low-glare passive daylighting.
The aquatics hall and supporting spaces comprise 55,000 square feet, and are geared toward leisure, therapeutic, and beginners swim programs. The 25-metre-long 8-lane lap pool, 4-lane adjustable-floor teaching and therapy pool, tot pool, and whirlpool rely on a state-of-the-art filtration system with below-normal chlorine requirements and exceptional water and air quality output. Topped with a ceiling of triangulated acoustic panels, the aquatics hall is a serene and unified space capable of supporting multiple programs at once, thanks to its high-performance sonic surfaces. At the perimeter of the deck level—and continuing through all public circulation spaces—walls are lined with hexagonal tiles, a geometric motif extended by the building’s colourful accent details.
Supporting the aquatics hall and steam room are transparent and gender-inclusive change rooms topped by additional space earmarked for future expansion into a fitness centre. Accessibility was the watchword throughout the Centre: the pools are serviced by ramps, while the fully accessible universal change rooms will set the standard for years to come.