Desjardins Aquatic and Recreational Centre, QC

The Saint-Hyacinthe Aquatic and Recreational Centre is a unique and innovative building that poetically references large fragments of the natural landscape. Inspired by glaciers, the centre’s clean lines create a space that is open to the exterior, where swimmers can experience a welcoming atmosphere.


The architects designed a compact and efficient volume with an economical and easily constructible outer shell. Glacier landscapes, with their pure lines and monumental effect, inspired the volumetric concept of the centre. With the expansive horizon of the Montérégie region as backdrop, the floating triangular masses of the building anchor it to the site. The scene is not alien to this region of Québec, with its landscape of ancient eroded mountains emerging somewhat surprisingly from the calm farmland plains of the area.

The white masses floating over the basins shape the vast interior space, creating two distinct environments. The stretched and pulled forms over the recreational basin create a playful, intimate space, while less exaggerated triangulated surfaces are reserved for the competition area. The solid, upper mass contains two cut-out voids housing skylights which cast diffuse, natural light onto the basins below. These devices allow visitors to simultaneously engage sky and water, an experience often lost with interior pools.

The variety of sports infrastructure offered by the centre allows for water activities at both competitive and recreational levels. There is an 8-lane, 25-metre competitions basin with a 1-metre diving board and 3-metre platform. For recreational visitors, there is a community basin with water games, a 5-metre waterslide, therapeutic bath, and saunas. There is poolside seating for 450 visitors, extensive locker rooms, and multipurpose rooms for community events and other recreational activities. The staff and administrative areas are positioned to overlook the basins whenever possible for safety, while the café and other public spaces encircle the basins to let patrons enjoy a view of the pools.

The insertion of this new facility within the wooded Bois des Pins Park emphasizes the site’s recreational vocation. A densification of the woodland area towards the aquatic center is planned, in order to help vegetation grow on the site.


Client : Ville de Saint-Hyacinthe
Location : Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec (Canada)
Completion : 2011
Area : 3600 sq. m.
Budget : 18.0M $
Architect : ACDF Architecture inc / TLA
Structural Engineer : SDK
Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: Dupras Ledoux
Consultant : Inneauve
Photographer : James Brittain

Desjardins Aquatic and Recreational Centre, QC 2018-07-18T15:53:17+00:00

Project Description