Bouygues team wins Paris Aquatics Centre bid


Paris 2024 Aquatic Center Image: Ateliers

A team led by Paris-headquartered industrial group Bouygues, French energy specialist Dalkia and Swedish waterpark developer Recrea has been picked up as preferred bidder for the Paris 2024 Olympic Aquatics Centre.

Métropole du Grand Paris chose the French contractor over two rival bids, including one from Vinci – the French concessions and construction company.

The Métropole du Grand Paris is an administrative structure for cooperation covering the City of Paris and its nearest surrounding suburbs.

Designed by Paris-based Ateliers 2/3/4 and Dutch designer VenhoevenCS, the €90m center will come up in the rundown northern suburb of Saint-Denis. It will be a 30m tall building with the roof in the shape of a saddle and will boast a curved wooden façade.

A footbridge over the A1 motorway will connect the Aquatics Centre to Stade de France – the main venue for track and field events.

A mobile platform will facilitate the main swimming pool to be divided into two smaller pools with variable depths. The facility is expected to hold 6,000 people, with artistic swimming, diving and water polo set to take place in the center during the Games.

Long cherished dream

France has been waiting for this aquatic center since 2005. It was a promise made by the State the day after the bid for the 2012 Games. It will see the light of day after a yawning gap and will stand out for its concave roof and also be the pièce de résistance of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

It is a development whose overall value stands at 174 million euros. During the application phase, the file had been estimated at 111 million euros.

Its cost has been revised upwards to 174 million euros (including 147 million euros for the construction market awarded to Bouygues). Alterations have not been made to the total infrastructure budget (3.2 billion euros) since budget lines had been planned keeping in mind the Aquatics Centre.

Solideo, the Olympic Games delivery authority, will pay 154 million euros (50 percent come from the States, 50 percent from local authorities). The spending pattern will be – 126 million euros for the Aquatics Centre, €21 million for the construction of the footbridge which will connect the swimming pool to the Stade de France and €7 million for various improvements. The Metropolis (which had already paid 20 percent) will add 20 million euros to participate in the future water park.

Project review

A project review carried out in 2018 slowed down the costs which had gone sky-high and this made it feasible to resize the swimming pool. A report by the General Inspectorate of Finance assessed the real cost of the building at minimum 260 million euros (the London swimming pool in 2012 cost 370 million euros, that of Tokyo 2020 480 million euros). Consequently, in addition to the Aquatic Centre (6000 places for diving, artistic swimming and the water polo qualifying phase), a separate aquatic stadium (funded by the organizing committee, without public money) will also come up during the Games, and will accommodate 15,000 places, for swimming races and water polo finals. It will be knocked down after the competitions and the pools will be reused in Seine-Saint-Denis.

Modular pool

Métropole du Grand Paris, taking into consideration the financials, had asked the various groups to review their copies. This is where the idea of a single 70m basin, with a system of mobile docks, sprang up on the Bouygues side (associated with Dalkia-EDF and Recrea). This idea went down well with the decision makers for spatial reasons – as less surface area would be used (10 m in width gained) – as well as it would bring down the bill by around 10 million euros. From an environmental perspective, too, it would help.

“A single basin is a single filtration system and less water to heat,” said a decision maker. The Aquatic Centre will also stage other multisport activities (skateboarding, climbing, paddle, fitness, etc.).

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