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The curved grey concrete design of the Knubben harbour bath, reminiscent of a topographical map, by Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta
Photograph: Snøhetta

Thought your lido was cool? Take a look at this harbour pool in Norway

Arendal’s Knubben bathing spot is getting an incredibly flashy revamp – and will reopen in 2024

Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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From London’s lido craze to New York’s spectacular floating pool, open-air swimming seems to be having a bit of a moment in 2021. Sure, it’s probably been helped along by the pandemic, but now that we’re all cottoning on to the pleasures of splashing about outside, we reckon this trend is here to stay. 

Especially in the Norwegian coastal town of Arendal, where a traditional harbour pool is set to be revived to celebrate the town’s 300th anniversary in 2024. First opened in 1937, the original Knubben bath was used by the town’s swimming club for diving competitions and other water sports, but closed just a decade later. Briefly reopening as a jazz club in the 1960s, the structure was eventually demolished in the 1980s after decay had made it unsafe. 

Crowds sitting on stepped cocrete platforms overlooking a performance space on the rendering for Snøhetta's redesigned Knubben bath
Photograph: Snøhetta

But now Oslo-based architecture firm Snøhetta has unveiled designs for a brand-new skerry structure to replace the old bath. A curved concrete structure with stepped levels, the new Knubben bath is reminiscent of a topographical map and is inspired by the landscape of Norway’s coast, largely shaped during the last glacial period. The structure will sit on steel piles that should allow it to withstand the area’s rough and changeable weather.

A lively meeting place that will have multiple uses year-round, the 750-square-metre complex will have diving platforms, changing rooms and a sunbathing deck as well as an open-air stage at the centre of a curved amphitheatre. There will also be an indoor area featuring a restaurant and smaller performance spaces. Just outside of Arendal on the Galtesund strait, the pool will offer spectacular views over the harbour between the islands of Tromøy and Hisøy. 

Scheduled to open in 2024, it will be the latest in a long line of impressive projects devised by Snøhetta, including the Le Monde Group Headquarters in Paris, Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo.

Already planning your visit to Norway? Check out this floating sauna with views of the aurora while you’re there.

Plus: you could stay in the world’s first energy-positive hotel, smack bang in the Arctic Circle.

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