Feature Article - January 2020
Find a printable version here

Planning for Flexibility & Wellness

The Ongoing Evolution of Natatorium Design

By Dave Ramont

Locker rooms and changing rooms are also critical components to successful natatoriums. "Family locker rooms have been a must-have for some time now. However, we're seeing a trend toward unisex spaces that in some cases are open to the natatorium space," said Hester. "In this approach lockers, cubbies, bench seating, sinks and even hair dryers are available and used by both men and women in a common space. This area is then surrounded by individual toilet rooms, changing rooms and showers."

Berkshire agrees that all-gender facilities are becoming standard, and added that as programming has diversified, the demands of locker rooms have also evolved. "Space for teams, seniors and children must be accounted for. Attention to spaces that can be monitored for safety as well as safe egress in emergencies must also be provided for."

As the cost of building new facilities continues to increase, Hester said that finding ways to repair or renovate existing facilities may be the only option for some to meet project budgets. "In these instances, there should be a balance of addressing both the physical as well as functional issues. When simply repairing physical issues in an older natatorium, millions of dollars can quickly be spent without any impact to the functionality of the facility."

Berkshire agrees, adding that many existing facilities are faced with providing updated amenities and programming. "Modernization projects need to address not only the pool but the building and mechanical systems as well. By evaluating existing deficiencies, programmatic need, desired needs, potential enhancements and anticipated needs for the next 20 years, a modernization project can be a huge success. Successful facilities can cater to the program needs of the entire community."

Simply put, modern natatorium design focuses on quality, according to Berkshire. "Quality of air, water and spaces. Better air and water quality mean a healthier atmosphere for patrons and employees." RM