Located in the northern Italian province of Bolzan-Bozen, Kaltern Lake is a nature reserve where access is restricted to a few bathing establishments. The site of this project is the only public one and the programme was translated into an ambiguous space that can be used as a place for culture, community life and the experience of a unique landscape, besides its function as a recreational facility.
Perched on an existing slope, the bath is organised on two levels which increases the usable area by one-third compared to the former arrangement. The sundeck is joined to the terrain at its highest elevation and it acts as an artificial landscape extending towards the lake as well as a platform for panoramic views. Serving both as a swimming area and as public space - with the two linked by pavilions accessible from both sides - the sundeck is connected to the aquarium level below by steps designed both for sunbathing and as a grandstand for events organised on the lake.
The swimming pool is inserted into the hollow structure of the sundeck and its varying depth defines the sculptural mould of the aquarium ceiling. Round openings in the pools bottom provide visual connection and natural light. The aquarium provides shelter from the rain; on hot, sunny days it becomes a cool, shady play area; and at night it serves as a backdrop for concerts and parties.
The unfavourable soil conditions on site required the use of piles for the foundations, making it mandatory to concentrate the load. The monolithic concrete volume is connected to the ground via structural cores, two of which penetrate the sundeck and the swimming pool, where they emerge from the water like artificial rock formations. Six cores and the partially interred technical equipment block support the cantilevered sundeck.