In a city where the temperature typically varies from a low of 45°F to a high of 76°F, the owners of the Whakatane Aquatic and Fitness Centre in Whakatane, New Zealand, wanted to maximize usage of its secondary outdoor pool throughout the year. They engaged New Zealand’s Fabric Structures Ltd. to build a cover for an outdoor pool that allowed natural light and side walls that opened in the summer and improved heat retention in the winter.
The project had to be built over an existing pool that was adjacent to the main aquatic center building. Designers had to engineer a solution that allowed one end to cantilever over an existing changing rooms bulkhead.
Fabric Structures Ltd. used and adapted what were essentially “curtain siders,” like what one might see enclosing large trailers. In this case, the curtain siders were made of a standard PVC outer membrane with a highly translucent liner membrane to allow light transmission through both membranes. The liner membrane was sealed using Alcubond flashings to maximize the heat retention.
The pool can be partially enclosed during the winter months, harnessing the heat from the pool, while still maximizing light transmission through the PVC membranes. In the summer, the sides can be opened to maintain the outdoor feeling of the space.
One benefit was that the main indoor pool was no longer subject to overcrowding in bad weather because the newly covered outdoor pool could be used for longer periods throughout the season. Essentially it has turned an under-used pool facility into an asset for the center. The project was recognized as the 2021 Awards for Excellence Winner, Tension Structures & Canopies >100 sqm by OFPANZ, the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand.