Paracelsus pool and spa facility in Salzburg

Physisal relaxation and cultural stimulation

published in sb 3/2020

The new Salzburg Paracelsus pool and spa facility is located in the heart of the historic City of Salzburg. The new building enters into dialogue with its existing surroundings – the ­Mirabellgarten (baroque gardens), the old town and the surrounding mountains. Berger+Parkkinen Architekten have designed the swimming hall on the 3rd floor as an extension of the spa garden.

In its urban setting, the new Paracelsus pool and spa facility forms a link between the Gründerzeit blocks of Auerspergstrasse, the looser pattern of building in Schwarzstrasse and the histori­cally evolved Mirabellgarten. The geometry of the pool building, which is swivelled towards the park, echoes the shape of the old baroque ramparts with their moat.

The pool and spa facility is conceived as a three-dimensional walk-in landscape. The main elements of the building exhibit clearly legible vertical stratification. The introverted base level contains the spa and the pool’s changing rooms. Above this is the open panoramic bathing level, surmounted by the restaurant and sauna area. The entire roof level is reserved for the sauna facility with its spectacular outdoor pool and unobstructed view of the city.

The pool and spa facility is shielded from onlookers by a continuous cladding of ceramic slats. Only the pool level opens directly onto the Mirabellgarten and the city, thus underlining the idea of extending the spa garden on the third floor.

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photo: Michael Christian Peters

Good to know

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photo: Michael Christian Peters

Salzburg, Austria

Stadtgemeinde Salzburg, KKTB Kongress, Kurhaus & Tourismusbetriebe Salzburg

Tourismus Salzburg GmbH (TSG)

Berger+Parkkinen Architekten
AT – 1120 Wien

Architects: Alfred Berger, Tiina Parkkinen
Project Manager: Lucas Schuh, Miklos Deri
Project team: Lenia Mascha, Matthias Trebotic Frane, Lucie Najvarova, Serban Ganea, Susanne Hofer, Leonhard Coreth, Sebastian Fischbeck, Jurgis Gecys, Anna Gulinska, Adam Ambrus, Lola Berger, Alejandro Casanóva, Matteo Centi, Aliz Florian Fanni, Jure Kozin, Joanna Magiera, Martina Rehorova, Veronika Rehortova, Lukas Rückerl, Susanne Strohbach, Marijana Vjesticova

Ceramic tiles
DE-92521 Schwarzenfeld

Berger+Parkkinen Architekten

Christian Richters
Michael Christian Peters

Official opening
October 2019

Construction costs
EUR 46,5 million

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Pool level with unique panoramic view of city and countryside

A central, linear staircase leads continuously from the main entrance in the west through the three lower floors to beneath the large skylight of the swimming hall. The central source of daylight provides uniform natural lighting, and the visitor gains orientation from the light flooding in from above. The pool level has four different swimming pools, ranging from a competition pool and diving pool to a toddlers’ pool and relaxa­tion pool. The surrounding glazing makes the room appear bright and open and brings the beauty of the urban environment into the depths of the room.

The swimming hall looks as if the building has been cut through on the third floor, continuing up into the open. The materialisation of the aquatic environment is achieved with ceramic surfaces, water and light, upwardly delimited by the gentle forms of the ceramic wave ceiling. The dynamic ceiling design with different room heights underlines the variety of spatial and atmospheric situations.

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Michael Christian Peters

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Michael Christian Peters


In their choice of material, the architects opted for porce­lain stoneware tiles from the Savona series from Agrob Buchtal. „The possibility of being able to use Savona anywhere in the swimming bath in principle – on the floor and walls as well as in the water and in the sauna – was decisive for us when it came to selecting a suitable tile”, says architect Alfred Berger. In the changing area, their lively, moving surfaces in the shade of lime, together with the irregularity of the free bond, create a secure, earthy-warm room atmosphere. The sand-brown or white surfaces of the walls and the ceiling are predominant, as are the floors, which are also completely covered with lime-coloured tiles. Thanks to the same size, colour and laying method as in the changing room and the upper “stairway to heaven”, the entire changing and bathing area appears as a coherent space continuum.

The only and thus determining colour accent is provided by the water basins glowing in light turquoise, which are atmospherically reminiscent of the many crystal-clear mountain lakes in the vicinity of Salzburg. This effect is based on 12.5 x 25 cm wall and floor tiles in the shade of medium turquoise. „The glaze makes the water appear in a natural way as if it were shimmering by itself”, explains Berger.

The sauna – “naked above the city”

At the top of the building are the restaurant and sauna section. While the restaurant for pool and sauna users is installed on the fourth floor “in the belly of the wave”, the sauna facility uses the open roof level as its platform. The four saunas and the steam bath are arranged along a corridor. Three saunas are designed as panoramic saunas overlooking the city, while the central large sauna is pre­ceded by a sauna lounge with a view of Mülln Church.

As an integral part of the space continuum of the bathing landscape, the entire floor of the sauna area on the 5th floor also has porcelain stoneware tiles laid in strips, there however in the colour anthracite. This colour perfectly harmonizes with the wood-covered walls, but also refers to the dark, rugged Mönchsberg rock, one of the landmarks of Salzburg‘s old town.

A relaxation zone offers an unobstructed view of the hilly landscape to the north and Maria Plain. The sensation of bathing outdoors above the roofs of the city culminates in the outdoor pool. A combination of physical relaxation and cultural stimulation is created by the unobstructed view of the city’s monuments.

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photo: Michael Christian Peters

Pioneer of sustainability – Klimaaktiv GOLD certified

To lend expression to this claim, the project was planned from the outset as a highly efficient building. It is Austria’s first indoor swimming pool to undergo a comprehensive sustainability analysis. It has obtained the highest certification, Klimaaktiv GOLD. In line with the City of Salzburg’s Smart City Strategy, the GOLD projects already completed are pioneers of climate protection and of a comprehensive energy transition.