How can a former pool be transformed into an experiential walking trail, expressing it’s past nature as a water reservoir?
The chosen site for the competition proposal is the waterwalk at the former pool Oud Zwembad in Spiere-Helkijn, Belgium. Rather than punctuate the future trail with an autonomous land art intervention, we’ve chosen to transform a portion of the trail into art itself. We thus adopt a long-term strategy, envisioning a permanent installation which becomes an everlasting part of the trail. The art trail in 2020 becomes a bike trail for the future recreational areas to local and metropolitan populations.
The waterwalk is a passageway that diverts the existing cycle lane and crosses the entire length of the ecological basin. It creates a void that calls the visitors to enter it, and live an experience which is architectural as much as artistic and environmental.
A gentle slope invites visitors to penetrate the body of water, before emerging on the other side at the height of the ground. The depth momentarily disengages visitors from the context, as they go through a different
thermal, visual and acoustic experience.
The void suggests a submerged boat hull, a nod to the boats that circulate on the nearby river. In the centre of
the basin, the wall bends as if the water was pressing against the hull, evoking the fragile balance between
human intervention and the landscape. The water overflows the ecological pond and drips on the walls, creating drips of various colours due to the corrosion of different metals incrusted in the concrete of the walls.
The natural pond in the Oud Zwembad Schiereiland is a collection of living organisms that are constantly transforming throughout the seasons. As a result, this body of water gives an everchanging perception of the overall site, making each visit unique and worth the trip.
We chose to follow this natural logic and implement materials that would also change and evolve overtime. The walls and floors of the passage are of fabric formed concrete, a thin layer cast in a fabric mould, that gives it an interesting texture and a folded shape. Bars of different metals are encrusted in the upper edge of the wall and in contact with water, the oxidation process colours the drippings with various shades of rust and verdigris.
The Evolving Waterwalk of Spiere-Helkijn
Trail, Installation, Art, Nature, Patina
Public Waterwalk Trail
The patinas embedded on the walls are signs of the past of the site, which used to be a testing pool for polluted water.
Exploded birds’ eye view of the waterwalk within the totality of the trail.
The signs of the past of the site are embedded on the walls, leaving nature to take control over the architecture.
Sections through the wider site (above), and details of the intervention (below)
The walls become the maps of a changing landscape and the footprints of the motions of water.