Rainbow – Relax, Silence, Pier
Rainbow - Relax, Silence, Pier

project: Aleksandra Dzienniak,
graduate of Architecture at Cracow University of Technology

English proofreading of the articles on behalf of the SARP Krakow Branch:
dr inż. arch. Marta Anna Urbańska
Original English texts were delivered by the authors.

reading time: about 11 mins

„About a swimming pool as a promenade (sorry), a pool of various characters and attitudes (...) In the tribune (right side) we have two types of guys: the first - a man who came to just sunbathe and understands nothing (....) The second type is a representative male specimen, after returning from a trip. He returned recently, he does not want to get involved in anything, stands on the hill and looks after the whole company (...) The second zone - almost central, they were so-so, nice and not too rich Warsaw boys. Those, if they had a little grace, lured the girl with just a good word (...) A student who learns on the beach is a special type of a student, especially carefully rubbed with oil, equipped by his mother with a sandwich and thermos, and completely, eventually deprived of any money.” 1

Agnieszka Osiecka, Ugly fourty-yearolds

1. Agnieszka Osiecka, “Szpetni czterdziestoletni” [Ugly fourty-yearolds], Iskry Publishing House, Warsaw 1985 (author’s translation)

Dry Pool

Our living space is fully dependent on time. Along with political and economic changes, we can observe the disappearance of characteristic public spaces. One of the huge examples of disappearance are outdoor public pools. In the 1970s, bathing resorts were built as part of sports workers’ clubs, housing cooperatives, and even landscape parks. Chlorinated water flooded the whole country. Why? First of all, sport was an important tool on the international arena of the Eastern Bloc countries. Secondly, pool complexes were built by workers and residents - “together”. It was a symbol of a community building a better future for the nation. However, the Poles sunbathed over the pool briefly. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, workers’ clubs slowly stopped receiving state funding. Now most of the public pools are dry, devastated and abandoned. Let us focus on one of them.

Green City

Somewhere between Warsaw and Krakow there is a small city of Kielce - with less than 200,000 inhabitants. Urban planning of the city is strongly based on its natural environment, especially in the moves of water. The Silnica River flows through the city centre. Along the banks of this river a green promenade was designed. Residents can walk through the entire city along the green avenue, starting from the limestone rock nature reserve to the water tank.

“Tęcza” Pool

Near the Kielce reservoir there is an abandoned, Late Modern sport pavilion and a sports club pool. The sport resort was built in the 1970s by workers - members of the “Tęcza” [Rainbow] club and residents of Kielce. The building was the pride of Kielce. The sports complex included a pavilion, tennis courts, a children’s pool and a professional Olympic-size pool with an auditorium, and also the popular at that time café with a terrace overlooking the pool. The golden times of the baths were interrupted by the political and economic changes. The lack of funding from the city caused slow destruction of the swimming pool. And finally, in 2008 the facility was closed.

“Societas - Existentia” Concept

The project of revitalization of the “Tęcza” sport resort is an attempt to draw attention to the problem of extinction of the space of outdoor public pools and thereby the loss of the unique social atmosphere created by swimming areas of the 1970s. The project was divided into two parts: the existing - the “Tęcza” pool zone and the newly designed - the “Relaks” pool zone. The concept of the first part is the revitalisation of the existing swimming pools by reclaiming the former social qualities characterizing public pools of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. That is why this part is called Societas (Latin: society). The second idea of the project is to extend the green avenue of Kielce by connecting the existing “Tęcza” zone with the water reservoir. To achieve the connection, a new contemplative swimming pool was designed. To emphasize the metaphysical value, the newly designed part was called Existentia (Latin: existence).


The Polish poet Agnieszka Osiecka in her book “Szpetni czterdziestoletni” [Ugly forty-year-olds] described the game of social relationships in the space of public swimming pools. In a fun way, it shows how important swimming resorts were in the 1980s. Each user occupied a specific element of the space - a swimming pool wall, a grass zone, a concrete pavement, a tribune, etc. In the presence of such interesting personalities, swimming seems to be secondary. The project recreates the characteristic elements of pools’ space and the planes of various usages so that together with the user the space can create a variety of activities and invite personalities.

Activity at a public pool is an interesting social phenomenon of private and public nature. Water, which we usually use in our own bathroom, here becomes the background for joint activity with a stranger. The savoir-vivre of bath breaks the rules of the city, creating a casual, natural atmosphere of undressing to the swimsuit itself and a full sense of summer in the city centre.

Three Sculpture Elements

The composition of the space of public pools is based on the game of levels and views. The usual elements of the pools are clear dominants. Slides, little bridges, shower, diving tower resemble concrete sculptures. The project is based on three sculptural elements. Each of them symbolises a different phenomenon. The diving tower is a symbol of freedom and overcoming the fear. The spiral slide is a child’s joy. Finally, the underwater abstract sculpture is a symbol of exploration of nature - it introduces the user into a state consternation and makes him or her dive.


Public pools in the existing “Tęcza” zone have a social aspect. Swimming in them is a joint activity. The “Relaks” pool, while bathing, is supposed to connect man with nature and put him in a mood of calmness - relaxation. In order to emphasise the symbiosis of man and nature, a swimming pool is purified naturally by filtering plants, such as reed, manna, and sedges was designed. Plants are located along the arc of the pool, next to a wooden bridge which marks the boundaries of the pool water and the reservoir. The water level was designed at an approximate height, and the water flowing from the reservoir into the pool is naturally cleaned by the layer of the plants. In this way, the whole creates a natural system. The circular shape of the pool basin symbolizes a continuous circle of natural phenomena. On the flat roof of the “Relaks” pool pavilion there is a naturist zone emphasising the philosophy of harmony of life with nature.

A wavy tunnel has also been designed in the Existentia zone. The function of the tunnel and its form changes with the user’s journey. The first part of the tunnel is contemplative. The user is surrounded by walls of 3 m height, water (flowing under his or her feet) and the sky. This is the symbolic point of the tunnel - the connection of earth and sky - man and nature. The other end of the tunnel turns into a pier and a harbour of sailing boats. The pier is to restore the former character of the Kielce reservoir and create the possibility of blue water recreation. Thus, it completed the green avenue, the river and a natural environment of the city.


The space of public pools has a strong social value. It creates a sense of belonging, community of residents. At the same time, it allows mixing social groups regardless of social status or age. Depending on our design, water can create a different atmosphere for us. On the one hand, it creates a background for joint activity and fun, and on the other, for intimacy and contemplation. Both states permeate each other, complement and fill our daily life constantly. In the current reality of full social isolation and virtualisation, we should take care for public space that will sustain and create a sense of community, and also allow for contact with nature and with ourselves.