Arava Aquatic Sports Center / Zait Lev Architects
Photographs: Eyal Tagar
Shachaf Zait, Eldad Lev, Liron Goldstin, Noa Pinsker
Text description provided by the architects. In the heart of the Arava region, at the foot of Mount Darga, is the Arava Aquatic Sport Center. The project offers a multi-pool sports facility and community center to the various desert communities of the Arava, and it replaces the single outdoor pools in each of the communities. The structure is used for swimming lessons and competitions, as well as various sports, leisure, and recreational classes. It also serves as an open platform for community activities and public events. The project restores part of the historical role of the well: Water as a source of life and a place that allows opportunities for encounters and social activities.
Inspiration – The remains of the Ancient Qumran in the north of the Dead Sea were a source of inspiration for us: The cisterns carved into the rock in a variety of shapes and uses, as well as the harmonious relationship between water and construction, together with the vernacular compactness of the built-up structures.
Water as a building material – The heart of the project is based on a three-dimensional continuous body of water, which “flows” among the construction, allows movement over it in “bridges”, and offers a wide variety of spatial situations between the water and the built structure. The water body is used for a semi-Olympic swimming pool, a children’s pool, a toddlers’ pool, waterfalls, and various types of seating and wading areas.
The built structures – Monolithic structures in different dimensions and heights that are arranged around the pools and bodies of water, populate the intimate functions of the project. In addition, the structures respond to the array of public spaces that they create: One of the structures has stood with seats “carved” into it. Another structure serves as a natural cooling tower. Two other structures form the infrastructure for waterfalls that flow on their sidewalls.
The roof – A lightweight roof is spread between the buildings. In the contact points between the roof and the built masses, there are separations in the form of skylights that contribute to the entrance of indirect natural light. The roof slides from the building to its perimeter and creates a variety of outdoor and shaded spaces around the perimeter of the building. In fact, the structure does not end with the glass vitrine but continues towards the courtyard. Large sliding doors are arranged into niches and allow the connection of the “interior” of the construction with the balcony and the courtyard to the south.
Climate and sustainable construction – The positioning of the structure is based on a starting point, according to which all the existing mature trees remain. These trees naturally shade the eastern and western sides, as well as the courtyard, while the lightweight roof shades the northern and southern sides. In the center of the construction, there is a natural cooling tower, which as a result of pressure differences, creates movement of air from the inside of the building outwards that is cooled in contact with the water.
The large spans of the roof create a static height of up to a meter and a half that constitutes an insulated buffer between the interior and exterior. On the roof, there is an array of photovoltaic collectors. The project was planned according to the criteria needed to receive the green construction certification.
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