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The Earl Mah Aquatic Centre: Renovating a 36-year old whirlpool

Project planning and design

The Earl Mah aquatic facility includes an indoor pool complete with a diving area, a tot pool, a fitness centre, swimming lanes, saunas, and a whirlpool.

The 18-m2 (194-sf) wide skimmer whirlpool, with a volume of 10,834 L (2862 gal), was located in the middle of the building. It was built of concrete and finished with tiles. The current pool technology room is located behind the back wall of the pool.

The original idea was to demolish the existing pool and build a new one in its place. However, since the entire facility is built on piles with a crawlspace under the pools, the idea was quickly abandoned for two reasons:

  1. After the demolition of the original pool, it would be necessary to re-pour the base plate and supporting walls, which would significantly increase the cost of building preparation; and
  2. A void would be created in the middle of the lower floor, which could endanger the structure of the building itself.
earl mah aquatic centre. The 18-m2 (194-sf) wide skimmer whirlpool, with a volume of 10,834 L (2862 gal), was located in the middle of the building. It was built of concrete and finished with tiles. The current pool technology room is located behind the back wall of the pool.
The 18-m2 (194-sf) wide skimmer whirlpool, with a volume of 10,834 L (2862 gal), was located in the middle of the building. It was built of concrete and finished with tiles. The current pool technology room is located behind the back wall of the pool.

It was, therefore, necessary to keep the pool in its original condition and build a new pool inside the existing one. The architect suggested building a stainless pool. The main priority for investors was maintaining the original structure with minimal intervention in its construction. The designers planned the appearance to match the original shape of the installation, including its staircase and shape of the benches.

A visually attractive overflow gutter was planned in the initial proposal, which would improve hygiene and eliminate the need to periodically rinse exposed parts of the pool.

However, it was difficult to find space for a surge tank in the existing building and, therefore, the option with a skimmer was chosen.

In order to design a new stainless steel pool and maintain the original concrete structure, it was necessary to narrow the design by nearly 170 mm (6.7 in.) from each side, with the pool area now sitting about 400 mm (15.7 in.) above the floor.

The number of hydro-massage jets was increased from 10 to 26. Two 70-m3/h (2472-cf/h) air bubblers were added to the floor as part of the multi-purpose floor jet (combination of inlet, drain, and bubbler). An air massage feature was designed in the bench for every seat. Among other features was a 1.25-m (4.10-ft) long suction channel for attractions, a second drain in the stairs, a flood valve, two multi-purpose floor jets, two skimmers, and four red, green, blue (RGB) lights.

The contractors ensured all the equipment met the province’s pool code requirements for safety against blocking and hair entrapment and simple cleaning and maintenance.

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