Loong Swim Club, China

Images: Shao Feng

The Loong Swim Club is a fantasy inspired space for children and parents to enjoy. Designed by X+Living, the leisure centre plays on all the senses, creating a magical space. 

A brand new, fantastical leisure space in Suzhou, China. Completed in May this year, it is a parent-child sports training facility that integrates both swimming and sports education with entertainment and leisure. 

The large, subtle horseshoe-shaped building is divided into five main functional areas with some secondary functional spaces – all of which are centred around the behavioural habits of its audience. 

In order to break-up the spacious floorplan, chief designer, Li Xiang of X+Living, devised a streamlined flow through the space, taking into account the users’ habits and potential behaviours of the differing target groups, so all age ranges can benefit fully from the club. 

“Since we had no previous experience with projects related to swimming pools, we spent a lot of time in the beginning, researching consumer behaviours,” explained Xiang. 

“We also spent time designing appropriate functional distribution, movement lines and choice of materials according to the different ages, gender and needs. The design ideas provided by the client were to make a beautiful swimming pool. Using our experience from previous parent-child projects, we created some new functional areas for them, which they had never thought of and were really fond of taking the chance with.” 

The first point of entry for visitors is the reception area. This room sets the tone for the rest of the space and establishes the design narrative that the parents and children will venture on. 

A big whale is wrapped around a column in the entrance, which appears to be jumping out of the ocean-like floor. The reception desk is shaped like a ship with small lace arcs outlining the bottom in a simplified wave that pushes the ship and the narrative into the next room. Paying close attention to these design details helped the team to emphasise the design expression of X+Living’s concept. 

Water played a key role in inspiring the interior design for the space, particularly in the colours and textures used for furnishings and finishes. Continuing on the journey further into the leisure club, the parents and children find themselves in the reading room. The round-shaped decorative lighting elements in this space are reminiscent of sprays of water glinting in the sunshine across the ceiling. Alongside the reading room is the restaurant. Several fragmented eggshell-like shapes are arranged in the space, all coloured in fairy-tale tones and shapes and reflected in mirrors across the ceiling.

“The main function of the decorative lighting was to satisfy the aesthetics of the space. Another factor for consideration was the humanisation of the space, with a particular focus on the decorative lighting fixtures used above the baby bathtubs. We also took into account the idea of attracting childrens’ eyes to something above whilst ensuring the angle of light avoids hitting their eyes directly,” described Xiang.

The fixtures used throughout this project were bespoke designed and made in X+Living’s own factory. This allowed the team full control to create the desired effects in each room. It was important the fixtures created a soft distribution of light across each room, avoiding any dark angles or shadows. The pendants and fixtures add an ornamentally richer layer to each room’s design concept, as well as provided functional lighting for the user. 

Progressing through the next stage in the narrative, visitors enter the pinnacle point of the building – the swimming pool. First glimpses of the pool are seen through the parenting observation window in a dedicated seating area. Pastel pink and blue walls mixed with the blue hue of the water create a beautiful backdrop to the simplistic, yet striking lighting features across the ceiling. The giant water droplet-like lamps appear like condensation, adding to the overall dramatic effect. 

“The entire parent-child swimming pool uses gentle colours, and does not distinguish between different genders. The thin black lines add a bit of an avant-garde fashion to the overall space. In order to create an encompassing dreamy experience, design without accent lighting is used, which motivates people to explore every corner in the space,” explained the design team.

The final room at the end of the corridor is the bathing area, which is the most functional space. A huge chandelier is an eye-catching focal point in the room that also demonstrates the essence of the designer’s style.

“The design thinking of the overall space is closely centred around the water element. Water is extremely light and soft and has the infinite tolerance for life. To keep such a softness embedded in the heart of this project, we combined the design elements in the space to be as natural as flowing water.” 

www.xl-muse.com