Passivhaus design examples

Please don't build one of these centres!

When we first started looking over modern Australian aquatic centre designs we were surprised by what we saw. Most centres had grown substantially in size as designers pushed the ‘outside pool built inside‘ idea to it’s full extent. 

This has resulted in some pools being designed and constructed that are monuments to energy profligacy. Councils are steered away from the reality of what is going to be delivered by promises of ‘we are aiming for 5 Green Stars’ and other soothing notions. 

These pools in operation are no more efficient than the pools they have replaced. Sometimes they perform less efficiently to the surprise of the owners. Something is amiss and this page aims to point out a few no-go elements that should be left out of your design briefs. 

The centres are characterised by:

  • high ceilings
  • excessive glazing
  • excessive skylights
  • broken roof surfaces
  • exposed ducting
  • artistic design excesses
  • poor siting of pools and plantrooms
  • poor design of HVAC systems
  • poor use of natural light
  • excessive usage of gas heating 


Caulfield Grammar Wellness Centre

Where do we start?
The glazing is excessive, there is little hope of any control over air flow, humidity and temperature and there is a whole wall made up of shutters at one end. 

Gippsland aquatic centre

This centre is slightly famous as they installed a geothermal energy system which included a deep bore at a cost of $4m. That will result in lower energy costs, however these savings are still negated by the overall building design. 


Adelaide Aquatic Centre

The Adelaide aquatic centre has one of the highest Specific Energy Consumption figures in Australia. We have not measured it but the energy costs for their gas system are reportedly over $1mil per year and rising. They recently replaced the roof of the centre and… you guessed it, did not replace the excessive glazing there. The centre is a cautionary tale for any council who is contemplating fitting large skylights on their centre. Don’t go there!