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Research is underway for an open-air mega-pool in Brussels’ canal zone

15:25 22/07/2022

Brussels is hoping to meet demand for open-air swimming pools – which is only set to rise as heatwaves become more commonplace – with plans for the construction of an open-air mega-pool in the capital.  

Brussels alderman for sports Benoit Hellings (Ecolo) presented a preliminary study for a 300-metre swimming pool located by the canal, explaining that it combined “environmental and sporting issues for the first time.”

The pre-study put the cost of such a project at €11.4 million with operating costs of €461,000 per year, reports Le Soir.

Citizen activists have been pushing for more open-air swimming pools in Brussels for some time, especially through the initiative Pool is Cool. The recent spate of scorching temperatures has only fuelled the desire for more outdoor swimming spots.

Various promises for public projects have gone unfulfilled over the years, but after Pool is Cool successfully ran an open-air pool last year, which reopened again this year, there seems to be an increase in both the momentum of other efforts and the likelihood they’ll come to fruition. 

“All of this obviously stems from a long debate on the need for an open-air swimming pool in the Brussels Region, in particular to provide islands of coolness for its inhabitants,” alderman Hellings said of the latest study into a mega-pool. 

His proposal involves the construction of a swimming pool that’s 300 metres long and around 13 metres wide, within a complex approximately 355 metres long that includes a swimming area for children, a recreational area with slides and a diving area.

Firms involved with the study proposed two potential outdoor layouts: a public area between Sainctelette and the Quai de la Voirie, and a semi-public beach area with an entrance fee. The designers expect a maximum capacity of 2,400 visitors per day.

Outdoor pool needs to be accessible

Hellings said that keeping the entry price low is a priority, in order to give as many people as possible access to a means to cool off during Brussels’ increasingly hot summers. 

Architect Gérald Ledent, who co-directed the study, also emphasised the high potential of the Brussels basin as a location. 

“This is the historical area of Brussels-les-Bains,” Ledent said. “There are also a number of facilities being developed, such as the Kanal Museum and the Kaaitheater, which is currently being renovated.”

This latest proposal has an important environmental component: the installation of the swimming pool would contribute to cleaning the canal, which faces long-standing and ongoing contamination issues. The  mega-pool would discharge clean via various natural filters. 

Now that the study is complete, the next task is gaining political approval and necessary funding. The study estimates the cost of construction could be halved with the revenue from tickets. 


Written by Helen Lyons