The site was included in the plans created for the 1996 World Fair, and was intended to be used for sports subsequently. A&D Studio designed a sports hall, an indoor swimming pool, a training hall and a transformer station: the structure of the sports hall and the gyms was completed, but the swimming pool project stalled when the foundations were laid. When the expo was cancelled, the buildings that had been completed were closed, the area was abandoned and started to decay.
In 2012 the government made a decision to complete the sports facilities, and in 2013 a design contest was announced for a new swimming pool.
Infopark, located at the Buda end of the Rákóczi Bridge in the 11th district, is one of the newest and most modern areas in Budapest. Lecture buildings of two universities are located here in a campus-like green area inside the Magyar Tudósok körútja; outside the boulevard, there are religious and sports facilities, and, at the north and south end, mostly office buildings.
The swimming pool for professional competitions was to be built next to the Tüskecsarnok sports facility, on the outer ring of the park. North of that there are the buildings of the Sports Hall of the Budapesti Egyetemi Atlétikai Club. The design of the building was greatly influenced by the existing built environment, especially the Tüskecsarnok, as there are a lot of functional links between the two buildings both above and under the ground.
The complex of the separate and distinctively different buildings on the already developed area of the Infopark is modern and attractive. The new facility, an addition to the already existing buildings, brings new character with its sleek and simple design to the campus-like quality of the Infopark. The way the building mass is formed and the facade is created is meant to be a transition between the multi-storey, office building-like education blocks on the opposite side of the boulevard, and the neighbouring sports facilities built in different periods, some functional, some aesthetics-focused, some industrial in their design. The volume of the building mass is approximately equal to that of the Tüskecsarnok. However, its architectural and structural design is much more simple and restrained, in line with the design programme and current preferences.
Its architectural design has a dual quality: on the one hand, reflecting the sport and recreational functions, its is playful and it is reaching out, not turning inwards; on the other hand, the way the building mass is formed helps visitors find their way as easily as possible. The openness mentioned above is substantiated further by the horizontal, contiguous glass surfaces on the lower levels, i.e. the main access and evacuation levels, which give a pleasant character to the indoor functions through the intense visual connection to the neat park outdoors. Exploiting the existing terrain, the significant building mass, formed according to the geometrical parameters resulting from the function and the design programme, was lowered as much as technically justifiable, so its height matches that of the neighbouring buildings. The lower part of the visible building mass is connected to its surroundings with large glass surfaces, while, in a dynamic contrast, the block-like upper part of the building seems to be floating above.
The strict geometrical design is loosened up by the arrangement of the windows on the upper part of the facade and by the skylights; these are varied in size and height, which strengthens the homogeneity of the facade and the roof surface; at the same time it provides natural light and nice light effects to the inner spaces.
When selecting the materials to be used for the facade, we followed the modest solutions that characterize the whole building, which also resulted in lower investment and maintenance costs. After examining the available options, fiber cement siding was selected.
The swimming pool building is designed with partial basement, and it is basically a one-level block with long span roof. With the floor of the grandstand around the pool area, the one-storey space is divided into two levels in a U-shaped layout, and the areas beneath the grandstand are utilised. As a result, there are three functional levels: the basement with the mechanical systems, the pool level with several functions and the grandstand for spectators. Similarly to the existing Tüskecsarnok, the building is partially under the ground, adapting to the current ground level and the standard level of the water table to be considered in the design process. The entrance level of the swimming pool is 1 m higher than that of the Tüskecsarnok (106.50 mBf). By placing the building in this position and by performing landscaping works around the building, it is possible to enter the building on several sides from the landscaped ground or from a level close to that, and to evacuate the grandstand directly outdoors, and from there to ground level. The main entrance is on the east side (the side of Magyar Tudósok körútja), with a rather large draught lobby that is suitable for receiving groups. Guests entering the lobby can buy tickets at the cash desks opposite the entrance, and can go up to the changing rooms and the pools using the stairs or the lift. Adjacent to the lobby, there are premises to let to swimming schools or sports-related stores, and also a snack bar.
During sports events, visitors can access the grandstand through the stairs on both sides of the lobby. On the south side there is an accessible lift to the grandstand. There are cloakrooms for visitors on both sides. When the event is over, or if the building needs to be evacuated, visitors can leave the grandstand and go directly to the terraces.
On the pool level, there are pools, changing rooms and spaces serving athletes and events directly, and the workplaces of the staff operating the pool are also located here. Guests arriving from the lobby can access the pools through the individual or communal changing rooms. In the pool area, there is a 50 m competition pool, and a 25 m learning pool with changeable depth. There is a wellness area, supply rooms, and spaces for lifeguards, first aid and competition officials adjacent to the pool area. Adjacent to the south side of this level, there is the corridor connecting the building with the Tüskecsarnok; there is an entrance to be used occasionally by groups of athletes and VIPs at the junction of the corridor and the building. The VIP lobby is also located here, with a separate stairway to the VIP section of the grandstand. On the north side of this floor, there is the staff entrance with reception/security staff. The room of the reception/security staff also serves the building surveillance function. Building operation’s offices are adjacent to the lobby on the west, and on the east there are storage areas and changing rooms for building operations.
The basement with the mechanical systems is accessible through the circulation core linked to the staff entrance. No-one stays or works here for an extended time; on this level there are spaces for water management machinery, electrical systems and building engineering functions.