The Hague (NL), 2012



On most days, Hofbad is a multifunctional aquatic centre with a range of use options for all residents of The Hague and environs. One of the pools is an indoor 50-metre pool with a huge grandstand, so it is also used for national and international swimming, diving and water polo competitions. That means that on such days all eyes here are on sporting performance and competition. The building is designed for easy and straightforward conversion to use for either purpose. But the building is also unique from an environmental perspective. Its state-of-the-art insulation, rooftop energy generation and extremely sustainable systems make it extremely energy-efficient.

The building is also intended as the first element of a unique ensemble, with the residential towers still to be built forming the crowning touch. Under the building’s scaly skin lies an airy, almost organic inner world, a subtle allusion to the physical side of the activities that take place here. This organic idiom is the guiding principle behind the design of all the interior elements.

The main construction of the swimming pool areas, for example, with their overhead beams and crossbeams suggesting the shape of a ribcage, or, perhaps more literally, a backbone with ribs. This principle is carried through from the large competition pool down to the small children’s pools, in each case with the dimensions adjusted to the functional requirements. This overriding structure guarantees a rhythmic theme throughout the space and a clear, identifiable structure, underscored in part by the natural light and the many lines of sight connecting the activities with each other and the building with its surroundings. The air conditioning cabinets are housed in the ‘backbone,’ and are equipped with a direct connection to the swimming pool rooms through a set of extra ‘ribs,’ to allow even distribution of fresh air.


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Name: Hofbad
Location: Ypenburgse Boslaan, The Hague (NL)
Program: 50-metre pool with grandstand, instruction and recreational pools, restaurant, meeting rooms
Surface area: 9,050 m2 gfa
Assignment: Competition design; Schematic design; Design development; Construction documents; Procurement; Construction administration; Interior design
Period: 2007-2012
Status: Built
Client: Municipality of The Hague
Awards: Winner second prize BNA Best building of the year 2013


VenhoevenCS: Jos-Willem van Oorschot, Ton Venhoeven, Danny Esselman, Kees Plomp, Tim Habraken, Niels Boswinkel, Manfred Wansink, Lydia Fraaije, Roland Herpel, Bas Römgens, Arjan Pot
Main contractor:VBK/CFE
Structural engineer:Pieters Bouwtechniek
Building physics:LBP
Water treatment:Breet consultancy
Project management:Hevo
Cost consultant:abt
Images: VenhoevenCS, Ronald Tilleman (photos)