For most, the city of Lucerne beckons images of the famous covered bridge (Kappelbrücke), the historic old town, and the tragic lion sculpture (Löwendenkmal). The picturesque town can be misleading to unsuspecting eyes in that it appears so postcard perfect that one forgets that actual people reside there, and that its citizens are the lifeblood of this pulsating and creative city.
So when the city closed the Hallenbad Biregg (indoor swimming pool), it had a choice to make: Tear down the giant construction and sell the property to the highest bidder for redevelopment, or do something innovative.
An Old Pool at Neubad
Thankfully, the city’s politicians and policy makers understand the value of new ideas and started a competition for the best new use of the building and/or land. One of the entries was the Netzwerk Neubad, which sees the complex as being a hub for the entire community where the arts, science and entrepreneurship are creatively mixed together.
The judges had the foresight to unleashing the potential of giving the space to the youth. So by awarding the rights to the pool to Netzwerk, they have given a breath of fresh air to the old swimming facility.
Project Neubad will feature workshops for artists, presentation space in the old swimming pool, a restaurant serving food made of local ingredients and hot-desking space for young business folks.
The Neubad has already started to host a variety of smaller events and will be the main location of the Fumetto, the 2013 International Comix-Festival Lucerne.
The location has also gained the attention of the TEDxLuzern organizing committee, which hopes to host the 2013 event in this unique venue. Because the project will establish central Switzerland’s largest creative co-working space, its realization will benefit people far outside of the city and in neighboring cantons.
Like with most renovations and re-use projects, the costs are high as new bylaws, safety standards and energy requirements demand extensive structural work. The realization of the vision „Neubad“ has been budgeted at 500’000 Francs. With much of this having already been raised, the Neubad needs to collect the remaining amount within 60 days to ensure project completion this summer.
At present, the organization is accepting donations and is running a crowdfunding project. For 100 Francs, donators can buy a piece of the facility’s wall to decorate. Alternatively, for 80 Francs, anyone can have their name engraved on the safety railing around the pool or on a seat. The goal of this initiative is to raise at least 100’000 Francs.
The other message regarding funding is that while local politicians like to voice their support for the project, they are slow to back it with actual funds that would benefit the vision and help Neubad become a reality.
One of the projects that funders will be actively supporting through their donations is the association between the department of technology and architecture at the Hochschule Luzern (HSLU) and Neubad.
In this project, the HSLU will equip the Neubad with the latest in solar panel technology and act as a testing lab for new innovations in the field of renewable energy. Neubad users and visitors will be able to see and experience these developments on a daily basis.
With this partnership already signed, there will surely be more projects and businesses interested in collaborating with Neubad soon.
Your Support Goes a Long Way
The Neubad is a wonderfully creative and innovative way of re-imagining a communal space so that it continues to bring a collective societal good to both the people of Lucerne and the surrounding area over the coming years.
Projects like Neubad are an example of how imagination and vision can create a better community and future.
Support this project at crowdfunding.neubad.org.
(Photographs copyright by Dario Lanfranconi)