16 FEB 2017

The Parnell Baths – Good Times and Great Design

The Parnell Baths are a truly joyous place – a vibrant cornucopia of colour, fun and incredible design.


Words by Caroline Moore, Photography by Dan Eagle

There have been salt water baths on the site at Auckland's Judges Bay since 1914 but it's the 1950s rebuild, managed by modernist architect Tibor Donner, that has cemented the baths' place in NZ design history. (See our post about Donner's Civic Building)

Donner went for a glamourous resort feel, with wooden boardwalks, fountains, sun loungers, and a huge 60m pool. The main building epitomises modernist chic with a cubic form, a cantilevered walkway and considered detailing such as geometric screens and two stunning glass mosaics.

The mosaics, created by James Turkington, run across the front of the main building and feature stylised male and female swimmers, whose fluid lines and tumbling forms create a sense of underwater motion. One theory is that Donner came up with their design after seeing Matisse's paper cut 'The Swimming Pool' on his tour of North America in 1956.

As if all this wasn't enough to satisfy the desires of design enthusiasts, in 2012, Warren and Mahoney Architects were approached by Auckland City Council to design a pedestrian bridge to replace the existing one connecting the baths to the waterfront. The resulting 'Point Resolution Bridge' is a highly sculptural stunner with three graceful arches enveloping and supporting a hull shaped deck which cantilevers out over the harbour.

So if you want to make the most of the remaining summer weeks, pop along to the baths with the family this weekend or enjoy a few after-work laps - exercise and outdoor fun doesn't get more stylish!


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