Châteauroux’s aquatic centre is in a low-density former industrial district, on the edge of the Indre Valley looking onto a green, wooded landscape. From the raised concourse, the building is seen as a rising, swirling series of rounded volumes faced with thin wood strips that surround the swimming pools hall and form its ancillary and service areas. The concourse of the aquatic centre forms a large ellipse that prolongs the building to the south and the east, then goes down along a gentle, landscaped slope to reach the level of Avenue Jean Macé and connect the aquatic amenity to the existing campus. The swimming pools hall is a spatial continuum that allows special visual relations with the Indre Valley and transparency between the sports spaces, the leisure spaces and the solarium. Bathed in light, it provides spatial and visual comfort, as well as symbiosis with landscaped outdoor solariums treated as tiered leafy dunes facing south-west. The ceiling has scattered large rounded skylight openings, floating above the pools like glass flying carpets.
The Balsan historical site
In 1751, Louis XV granted Jean Vaillé the right to create the Manufacture Royale du Parc de Châteauroux, in the vicinity of the castle in Châteauroux, a pioneer town in the cloth industry. The first buildings were constructed in 1752, and because of their innovative character, they reinforced a powerful local textile tradition that continues to this day. From 1856, the name Balsan became associated with the factory and was synonymous with innovation and ambition. The site includes 60,000 square meters of workshops and warehouses and includes administrative buildings, a gas production plant, water towers, a workers’ housing estate of 100 homes, a dispensary and schools. The Balsan district is today an eco-district of the municipality, with remarkable restored historical buildings and a particular relationship with the landscape on the edge of the Indre valley.