The Bathing Pools

Guernsey is deeply connected to the sea and is home to a rich maritime heritage that spans millennia. In 1844, Guernsey’s first sea-water bathing pool was constructed at La Vallette, as the growing harbour of St Peter Port engulfed surrounding beaches previously used for bathing.

Over the centuries the relentless coastal environment took their toll and the changing rooms (added in the 1930s) fell into disrepair. In 2019, a not-for-profit charitable trust was founded to rejuvenate the pools, with a vision to return it to its former glory and create a vibrant destination for the community - a place to be shared by all.

100% recycled black plastic battens were used to clad the changing rooms - each board engraved with the names of those that provided their skills and sponsorship, as a subtle yet enduring thank you to all who contributed.

The replacement building was designed to respond to the topography and exposure of the site - knitting itself into the rocky outcrop whilst introducing a formal and linear elevation to the pools.

The varied tiers reflect the staged topography of the pools, allowing people to inhabit all roofs levels, whether they’re looking for panoramic views of the historic harbour and neighbouring islands or to shelter from an incoming storm.

A fully accessible ramp from street level connects the building into the higher ground, providing a South facing sheltered terrace and seating area.

The middle floor includes a community café where bathers can warm up after a brisk swim – a space of quiet and calm, protected from the elements.

A central core connects the cafe to the changing rooms below with direct access out to the pools, allowing swimmers shelter from the elements.

Undulating timber waves soften the interior both visually and acoustically and connect the space to the rolling seas beyond.

The newly formed top level of the site holds a lightweight glazed pavilion, with adjacent landscaped terracing offering spaces for events and community activities to help financially support the facility.

The pavilion offers panoramic views of the historic harbour and the neighbouring islands.

As temporary custodians of this important heritage it is hoped that the rejuvenated facilities will allow the area to remain relevant and thriving for centuries to come - a legacy of those dedicated to the island community and the sea that connects us all.

Today the pools are as popular as ever and have a renewed sense of purpose. A dynamic ramp weaves between the granite outcrops down to the pool - offering a pastime accessible to all.

Materials and structure were specified to offer robustness and rational simplification of the existing building, detailed to provide texture and rhythm within a constantly changing landscape.

The pools are linked to the building by a covered changing and shower area that remains available when the building is closed.

Before

After