The world’s biggest floating salt water swimming arena, the newly opened Harbour Baths in Aarhus on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark, bring the local community to the water and connect the harbour with the city. Marinetek, together with its Danish partner CC Design, worked once again to breathe life into a design drawn up by world-famous architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), developing and delivering a leisure hub that was three years in the making.
Situated on an artificial island at Bassin 7 of the Aarhus Docklands, the arena is family-friendly, featuring a 50m long pool, a 90cm deep junior pool, 30cm deep baby pool, 3.5m deep circular pool with jump tower and two large saunas. There are also changing rooms and showers, facilities for lifeguards, cafés and a floating sandy beach. Visitors enjoy stunning views of the harbour and the city and can enjoy time in and around the water all year round.
CC Design and Marinetek have over 20 years of experience in constructing swimming arenas and completed Copenhagen’s first arena, Copenhagen Harbour Baths, 15 years ago, also to a BIG design. The Aarhus complex, built under contract to housing developer CASA, utilises floating concrete pontoons manufactured by Marinetek in Finland and Latvia, locally bought steel and sustainable environmentally-friendly treated Swedish pine. All pontoons are secured using tall steel piles and are protected by a surrounding breakwater.
The arena was gifted to the city by the Stalling Foundation, a long-established international retailing group that uses its profits to invest in activities that help and inspire people in day-to-day life. Stalling Group generously donated DKK40 million (€5.7 million) for the project.
When the arena opened it was an immediate success, attracting an average of 2,700 people per day. As capacity is for 650, visitors wait in the cafés or stroll around the harbour until space is available, turning the entire area into a potential outdoor leisure centre. Plans are now in place for beach volleyball courts, bars and extra cafés to be built in coming months. In the longer term, a theatre, hotel, restaurants and shops are planned.
“We have enjoyed working with BIG to, once again, deliver a stunning first-of-class outdoor swimming and leisure facility for the public,” said Christian Christiansen of CC Design. “The high visitor level that has been sustained throughout the summer months tells us exactly how popular the arena is with locals and tourists.”
“For the Copenhagen Harbor Baths project, BIG used Marinetek pontoons to explore the transformation of Copenhagen’s former industrial port into a recreational aquatic playscape that all citizens of the city could enjoy,” explained BIG Partner Kai-Uwe Bergman. Since then BIG has continued to further explore ‘blue urbanism’, with projects like Urban Rigger and the Aarhus Harbour Baths. “These floating platforms and programmes prove that there is a lot of development potential along any urban waterway or coastline,” he added.
For more information: