Public saltwater swimming pool in Mazatlán by Colectivo Urbano

published in sb 6/2018

100 years and two hurricanes later

The renovation of Mazatlán’s historic Carpa Olivera ocean-fed public swimming pool is steeped in history while being free of charge and open to the public. The new amenities include a water slide, fountain, wheelchair-accessible ramp, and all-new bathrooms and changing rooms. Design by Colectivo Urbano.

Originally built in 1915 and inspired by sea pools in Lisbon, Portugal, the Carpa Olivera was a social centre located at the Olas Altas beach in the historic centre of Mazatlán. Celebrities of the time used to gather and socialize there, and it was a must for every tourist. In 1954, Carpa Olivera sustained severe damage in a hurricane and was thus condemned to abandonment. But, after some time, locals resumed use of the pool. In 2004, the place was remodelled but soon afterwards fell into neglect and was destroyed by vandalism.

Sculpture by the sea

Colectivo Urbano, composed of five architecture, landscaping and urbanist firms, took the initiative as a proactive team. Dedicated to generating ideas to improve the city, they suggested salvaging this public space and contacted the Mazatlán Investment Unit led by architect Roberto Díaz. The idea was to recycle, clean and return this pool fed by tidal water to its former splendour, and to integrate a new playful element: a spiral slide that dramatically promotes social reactivation for locals and
visitors. This element acts as a strong singular sculpture
by the sea.

Sustainable strategy

As part of the sustainable strategy, the operator of a nearby business works under a concession and at the same time keeps an eye on the pool facility to maintain and monitor the site. This concept ensures optimum operation conditions without direct cost to the city of Ma­zatlán.

At the top level and connected to the pedestrian sea wall is an open area that serves as a lookout and where a pre-existing sculpture is relocated. Passers-by are invited to take a rest on a perimeter bench while watching the horizon and the beautiful sunset.

Down the ramp is an enclosed stepped square, providing some shade, and an oasis of coconut palm trees opposite the snack bar. On the lower level there is a dedicated area with a long bench close to the dancing water fountain. This is where children relax before entering the sea pool or climbing the water slide to enjoy the wet ride. The infrastructure also includes showers and rest­rooms.