Sportplaza Mercator

Jan van Galenstraat 315
Ton Venhoeven, Richel Lubbers
OKRA landschapsarchitecten en Copijn
Sportfondsen Nederland en Stadsdeel De Baarsjes
Van Wijnen, Heerhugowaard
Tram 13, halte: Marco Polostraat
Kloos, M. en Y. de Korte, Amsterdamse Architectuur 2006-2008, Amsterdam 2008.
Groen, Leisure

Swimming in green surroundings

Sportplaza Mercator is built on the site where the Jan van Galen swimming pool used to stand, on the boundary between a residential district and Rembrandtpark.

For this reason, the architect was asked to design an urban building that would fit in well with the green ambience of the park. This has resulted in a building which, partly due its half-sunken position, the higgledy-piggledy windows, the openwork façade and the use of natural stone, closely resembles an overgrown cave. At the rear, where the open-air swimming pool and a sloping field of grass determine the ambience, the building seems to emerge from a green hill. The building’s façade is clad with ‘Wonderwall’, a skin comprising three layers of root-repellent fabric on the inside, an absorbent layer of felt in the middle and a membrane with indentations, in which plants have been inserted, on the outside. The approximately 50,000 plants (fifty different species) that grow here are provided with water and nutrients via a drainage system. The steel and concrete building has a complex form. On the one hand, this has to with the varied programme, which called for, among other things, a competition swimming pool, a therapy pool, a special purpose pool, a fitness club, a bathhouse, a café-restaurant, a function room, a childcare facility and a fast-food outlet. On the other hand, the complexity is an expression of Venhoeven’s fascination with visual culture. Because of the many vistas and the sequence of interpenetrating spaces, the building is experienced as a series of fragments, which excites the visitor’s curiosity. (ARCAM/YK)