nordbad - Munich

»Classic monumental architectural style and modern age together in perfect harmony: the Nordbad is famous for its impressive swimming pool and tribune, the huge outdoor pool and the spacious sauna area.« quotes the website of the public utilities company Stadtwerke München. In the future the Nordbad public swimming pool will also be famous for its illumination. The concept made by Gabriele Allendorf Light Identity will take up the fascination of the element of water and transfers it into a contemporary illumination of the hall area.

Projected in the 1920ies as a public swimming pool in the north-west of Munich the realisation of the Nordbad was delayed until 1936 to 1941 when it was errected under the direction of Karl Meitinger and Philipp Zametzer. At the end of the Second World War the public swimming pool was partly destroyed and hence rebuilt from 1949 to 1951.

The historic picture shows the Nordbad after its opening in 1941. The imposing mural of two horses and a large wall clock have been edited out at the reconstruction 1949. The pendant ceiling luminairs with classic ball glass lampshades have been replaced by fluorescent lamp chandelliers. In 1991 and 1992 the building and the outside facilities have been renovated. The classic ceiling lights have been replaced by ceiling floodlights and reflector sheets.

The light concept for the public swimming pool was individually planned by Gabriele Allendorf Light Identity and realised with friendly assistance of the SWM. To switch the enlighting of the hall from ceiling to sidewalls had pragmatic reasons whilst serving several design aspects.
The ceiling floodlights and reflector sheets mounted in the 1990ies (refer to picture on page 1) were not only inefficient (with app. 40% loss of light through light deflection), but also hard to maintain. In the case of a damaged HIT lamp, the whole pool had to be emptied. With a size of 33 by 13 metres this action consumed more than 12 hours until the pool was empty.
By relocating the lights to the wall sides the ceiling was freed from large tangles of cable. The swimming pool now appears as an architectural unit.
The appropriate LED spotlights have been individually designed by Gabriele Allendorf Light Identity and been built in cooperation with the company LMT. Using a special luminaire not only enables a perfect adaptation of the structural shape to the architecture but also adapts the light perfectly to the room. The specially manufactured LED spotlights homogeneously bring the light into the middle of the room. Furthermore the light is being directed to the ribbed ceiling. The room contour is being emphasized by the downlights shining from the pillars and directed into the room.
The luminaires have been installed in approximately 7 meters of height. In the lower area of the nort side pillars had been black loudspeaker boxes before. These have been replaced by subtle white loudspeakers.
The light concept was made in close cooperation with the heritage management office and the SWM and respects the requirements of the preservation of historical monuments.

The plan for the next renovation phase intends to highlight the arcade of the hall behind the tribunes in a way to emphasize the wall mosaic.
Cold white lights will accentuate the blue and turquoise shades of the mosaic perfectly.


SWM (municipal utilities Munich)

planning horizon and realisation:



Christoph Stepan