Elisabeth Hall, Aachen

Indoor swimming hall from the art nouveau era

Only very few typical public swimming pools from the art nouveau era remain in Germany today. Elisabeth Hall in Aachen, which has been in operation for more than 100 years is – in the words of the partners at the architectural firm Frey, who was tasked with its comprehensive restoration – an "architectural and structural design gem." The traditional public baths, which were built after drawings of the Aachen City architect Joseph Laurent between 1908 and 1911, are considered an important showcase project far beyond its local renown.

Originally designed as a thermal bath, Elisabeth Hall initially featured showers and bathtubs, as well as a Roman-Irish steam room and a dog bath, which, however, fell victim to multiple reconstruction projects over the decades. A strict gender segregation initially separated the two bath halls. Today, of course this distinction has become meaningless.

The two baths were designed as free-standing basins made of reinforced concrete, which rest on abutments and which can be circumnavigated on foot. Gentle arches at the head end interrupt the traditional rectangular shape usually encountered in pool construction. The imposing Neptune fountain in the larger hall adds to the charm of the baths, as does the overall architecture with large rounded windows for plenty of daylight and the wrought iron railings on the upper floor. The changing rooms for swimmers feature timber constructions and marble partition walls.

After some renovation "sins" of the 1970s, a comprehensive refurbishment followed at the start of the new millennium in coordination with the building heritage authorities to prevent a deterioration of the historic structure. The public baths received technological updates, while all installations added after its original construction were removed and building elements that had been hidden in past refurbishments were uncovered.

BEGA luminaires provide the lighting for the prestigious structure in Aachen's city centre. LED wall washers with asymmetrical light distribution highlight the impressive vaulted ceilings and the art nouveau-style architecture. LED ceiling luminaires offer perfect lighting in the area of the changing rooms. They emit unshielded light into the room and onto the mounting surface. Hand-blown three-ply opal glass ensures a soft and even light distribution. The glass features high transparency, is resistant to ageing, easy to clean and looks brilliant.

Client City of Aachen Architectural renovation Frey Architekten, Aachen