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2014 MCHAP.emerge

Aquatic Center for the XI South American Games

Luis Callejas, Edgar Mazo, Sebastian Mejia

Medellín, Colombia

March 2010


Luis Callejas, Edgar Mazo, Sebastian Mejia


Andres Ospina (Landscape design)


Inder (Instituto departamental de recreación y deporte)


Paisajes Emergentes


The competitions brief required a complex system of bathrooms and changing rooms for swimmers and the public, All this areas are beneath the aquatic gardens. A set of courtyards below ground level give natural illumination to them and provide a meeting space and warm up area for competitors and swimmers. The only construction that rises above the gardens is the synchronized swimming pool. Submerged windows face to the main open air circulation area and from the street passers can peek at the swimmers. A broad pedestrian concourse provides access for spectators, while swimmers descend ramps to the sky-lit changing rooms 3m below the gardens, and ascend other ramps to the pools.


The site, on the west side of the city, was formerly a go-cart track and it is framed by the city’s striking geography. The new aquatic centre's brief asked to meet the needs of future competitions as well as the availability as a new swimming teaching facility and public pools. The layout in response is articulated by a system of garden through which the four pools are connected. A flooded landscape planted with species typical of tropical wetlands provides separation of private and public spaces that otherwise would have ended up been vertical partitions.


Ultimately the new aquatic center behaves as an unsolicited landscape and public space where water become the main asset to catalyze vibrant public occupation. It responds to the need of a professional swimming facility, yet the driving force behind the project was to re frame the aquatic activities as a public event open to the city.

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