Pooling leisure in Belgium

Great design and quiet make a perfect environment for swimming and enjoying life.

Troldtekt acoustic panels withstand moisture and are therefore very suitable as acoustic ceiling and wall cladding in, for example, swimming pools
Photo: Maria Bax

The renovated Kapermolen swimming pool in Hasselt Belgium was opened by the Town’s Mayor in 2016. It is located near the beautiful Japanese Garden and Plopsaland and within walking distance of Hasselt's city centre.

The total area of the pool has doubled in size compared to its predecessor and can now accommodate up to 3,000 swimmers. The swimming pool complex includes a large sports pool measuring 25m x 20m with the ability to lower the bottom of the pool to make it suitable for diving. Visitors can also use a small sports pool measuring 25m x 10m, a white water rapid, a children's pool and a wave pool. When the weather is nice, they can also swim outside in the Olympic outdoor pool, enjoy the sunbathing lawn or and the so-called Bermuda Beach Bar.

The complex was also made much more accessible. “For example, it is much better equipped for people with a disability,” says the mayor. "A mobile lift is provided to help people with disabilities get in and out of each pool."

A key part of the refurbishment was the sustainability and energy-saving techniques used by the architects to minimise running costs. There is triple glazing, an automatic shutter over the outdoor pool and solid insulation in the walls. All of this results in a lot less energy consumption and saving of thousands of euros per year. Another aspect was the incorporation of Troldtekt’s wood wool panelling to help improve the acoustics of the old building and make the interior environment more pleasurable for users. It provides a simple but effective and attractive solution to the problems of reverberated noise bouncing off the hard surfaces in the large pool area.

“It’s always interesting for architects to renovate an existing building and add a significant new part which has to ‘fit’ in the total concept. In this case, this swimming pool which has existed for 50 years and it was a very important building in a lovely location in the city. It had a great influence on the residents and a magnet for their leisure activity and enjoyment of the surroundings,” says 'Bernard Van Zeebroek of Artabel architects.

“When we first thought about the renovation, we were very encouraged by its popularity. Obviously, as the years passed, new building ideas and concepts of design have come along and these influenced us in the pool’s design and its performance. For example, there are not many pools where the floor can be made to move down and create a deeper diving experience. It was also important to have a view of the surroundings which is why the floor to ceiling windows were incorporated. At the same time, new facilities were added so that it appealed to non-swimmers as well.”

“Of course, one of the biggest problems of a pool interior is the noise, much the same as schools, with all that excited chat and cheering and everyone playing. Here, sound is magnified by the large area of water That’s why it was so important to specify surface materials which absorb this off-putting sound in a high performance but inconspicuous way.”

“For us, as architects, this was not a difficult decision because we have often specified Troldtekt and clients have benefitted from the high performance of their acoustic ceiling and wall panels. We purposely picked a natural wood colour and fine texture to help form the perfect place for swimming and leisure.”