The aim of the project is to restore the phenomenal tradition of river baths in Prague through a modern badeschiff-type floating pool with complementary facilities complying with contemporary requirements. Floating public baths combine general social and cultural functions with recreational and sports functions. The location of the baths echoes the historical placement of swimming pools along the Vltava embankment, with their specific connection to the Rašín embankment.
The project is based on the morphology of the embankment and defines the position of the floating facility among the existing bays along the high waterfront wall. The baths are composed of two architecturally different parts, creating a coherent whole. The swimming pool belongs to the river “realm”, while the floating facility follows the character of the high waterfront wall and the historical appearance of Prague’s traditional floating river baths.
This tension is complemented by a third layer, concealed in the below-deck interior: a structural system of steel ribs, the traditional structural component of all boats on the Vltava River. The floating facility is designed around the transformation of a cargo ship, by reducing its existing superstructure and adding a new part connected to the ship’s system of existing ribs.
The pool appears boundless, thanks to its infinite water surface, but offers a variety of depth levels suitable for different types of swimming, activities and user groups (with a maximum depth of 1.5m). At the water surface level, the pool is divided into three parts by troughs. These three parts can be distinguished by different water temperatures, used throughout the year, and adapted to different needs (the pool is designed for year-round operation).
The individual parts are designed for children and non-swimmers (paddling, shallow depths), with a relaxation area with gargoyles and underwater elements in the central part of the pool, and for swimmers, with benches along both sides of the pool. In the central part of the pool, there is an integrated entrance to the lower deck where are visitor toilets and access to the technological parts of the pool (reservoirs, filtration, pumps and anchoring elements).
Accumulation and filtration tanks are under the main bodies of individual parts of the pool. The whole body is built on active telescopic supports to prevent the dynamic effects of water movement in the pool and to maintain its balance against overturning caused by the moment of inertia of the water surface.
The concept of a floating pool with facilities is part of a number of interventions implemented within an approved riverside walk revitalization (the next phases include design of the street furniture, free-standing toilets, floating pool, floating terminal for cruise boats and floating toilets designed by the petrjanda/brainwork studio).
Revitalization of Prague riverfront, that stretches along the three embankments almost 4 km in length, is Prague’s largest investment in public space of post-totalitarian era after 1989, first of its kind and sociocultural impact. It brings life to the public space and 20 vaults in the riverside wall serving as cafes, workshops, galleries and public toilets.
The contemporary architecture fuses with the historical architecture in the conservation area and changes its program while keeping its genius loci. Instead of creating classic interiors, the vaults are merged with the exterior with maximum contact with the riverfront area and the river. The swimming pool will become one of the key stones of the Rašín embankment, its logical ending and one of its recreational epicentres.
The result of our work is the change in the perception of the riverfront area as a space for multi-layered social life based on turning the city face towards the river, to which it has been standing with its back for decades. It is based on the maximum connection with the open waterfront space and the river.
The contrast between the original closedness and the current openness is the fulfilment of the philosophical essence of the work by architectural and artistic means. This is also an issue in the current post-covid era; using the design based on non-separation of exterior from interior while merging exterior into sheltered spaces we reconstituted a re-established type of continuous public space without barriers of enclosed spaces, where operators do not interfere with the public interest.
It is a rediscovery of a city with a maximally accessible network of streets, bridges and passages without commercially motivated barriers. For all three parts of the riverfront area, we have proposed comprehensive concepts dealing not only with architectural service but also with program of this public space, including the methodology of their use and protection of their cultural and social function.
Studio: petrjanda/brainwork; Architects: Petr Janda, Anna Podroužková, Maty Donátová, David Fořt, Kateřina Tšponová; Project location: Rašínovo riverfront, Prague; Project year: 2017-2019; Client: The City of Prague; Visualizations: SDAR.
Floating pool 3D animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6j_5F-aYbIE&t=3s&ab_channel=PetrJandaPetrJanda