The International Award for Wood Architecture: Saint-Méen-le-Grand – Renovation and enlargement of public swimming pool

The public swimming pool in Saint-Méen-Le-Grand, a town in central Brittany, was built in 1994 and then renovated and enlarged in 2008, 2013, and 2015. The building’s original architecture features masonry elevations, a timber frame, and a slate roof. The complex follows the local building style, looking like a detached house only bigger due to its public function.

The different enlargement projects did not change this architectural approach, resulting in a heterogeneous mix of breezeblock and timber-framed walls. The result has been a cluster of poor-quality buildings in poor condition that stand opposite the Abbey of Saint-Méen-le-Grand.

Thus, the project had two aims: one, substantially renovating the existing buildings (the pools, the structure, all the walls, and the equipment) and, two, building a new pool extending out towards the Abbey. The project overlooks the local sports fields to the southwest, giving it the feel of an open rural landscape.

Contemporary architecture has a focus on conserving resources, which combined with the conditions at the site, led us to adopt an approach that aimed to retain as much of the superstructure as possible.

This decision led us to three major foundational principles:

  1. Follow modern architectural principles that integrate the volumetric diversity of the existing buildings.
  2. Choose structural and insulation systems that make the public facilities coherent again while ensuring that the new structure is watertight and insulated.
  3. Make the most of the site topography by connecting the interior spaces to the wider landscape and the horizon.

The large slate surfaces help the new pool blend in with the existing pool, creating the impression of vast pool decks wide open to the landscape.

The entire project is clad in black wood, and new entrances have been created in the existing structure to reopen the pool to the city. All the floors are covered in a uniform 12.5 x 12.5 cm grid which, like the black wood cladding, unifies the whole project.

RAUM worked to conserve as many existing elements as possible. The project focused on conserving resources, so it was essential to repair and transform rather than destroying everything to rebuild. The facility was originally a rather ordinary building void of charm.

We worked on the colour of the wood cladding to achieve a shade close as possible to the slate’s dark hues to make the building a unified whole. As the structure already had a complex shape, the idea was to paint it white to unify the whole space and make it extremely coherent, with the different layers and the structure visible only due to the various shadows they cast.

The large bay window overlooking the main swimming pool allows bathers to contemplate the landscape stretching out before them. The project offers amazing views of the surrounding area and creates a connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces.


RAUM on vuonna 2007 perustettu arkkitehtuuritoimisto, jossa kehitetään tutkimusta ja kokeilua nykyaikaisen asumisen muodoista.