Prince Alfred Park Pool
Friday 14 Jun 2013


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The change rooms are part of the newly upgraded Prince Alfred Park Pool – a 50m outdoor heated pool facility set within a 7.5 hectare park at the edge of central Sydney. They are housed within the new pool facilities building, designed as a piece of ‘folded landscape’ with a green roof of native ‘meadow’ grasses that embeds it into the refurbished park.

Pool change rooms are usually perfunctory spaces – internalized, smelly and wet. The ambition at Prince Alfred Park Pool was to make change areas that are both pragmatic and uplifting, spacious and intimate, airy and private, memorable, and ultimately robust.

The layout translates the ritual of arriving, changing, bathing to experience the simple joy of swimming. The ‘atmosphere’ of the space is generated via the section. Only 6m deep, the change rooms have a ceiling that rakes up towards the west from 4m at the soffit edge to 2.1m at the rear. Timber poolside walls extend to 2.4m with free airspace above. Showers and toilets abut this wall allowing them to be ventilated naturally. The continuous cantilevered soffit, ceiling, and rear wall, is lined with tiny white tiles that reflect light and water to give a beautiful liquid quality. Two large formed conical skylights in each the male and female change room, are in themselves ‘rooms’, admitting morning sunlight and allowing private views to the sky. This play between scales is a deliberate theme throughout the project – scaled to the individual swimmer, scaled to the city.                      

Chlorinated pools are known to be a highly corrosive environment for building materials. The materials in the change room are selected for their robustness in terms of use and resistance to corrosion. Partitions are blue terrazzo with painted timber doors. The colour resonates with the previous 1958 pool facility and the memory of a similar blue hue, and the striping continues the treatment of concourse and wall surfaces externally. Bench tops and splashback surrounds to the basins are also terrazzo. Here they are white. Painted steel frames support clothes hooks above solid timber seats.

The floor is an off-white concrete topping slab. The surface has been lightly honed and sealed with a penetrating sealer to achieve the ‘W’ anti-slip rating required for public pools, and is easy to maintain. Importantly, this finish creates a visual continuity with the distinctive off-white and blue concrete striping of the pool concourse externally. 

Building size: 1050 sq m

Male change room: 80 sq m

Female change room: 80 sq m


Family change rooms: 11 sq m + 14 sq m

Neeson Murcutt Architects