Tiefenbrunnen Stradbad (Zurich Badi), Zurich, Switzerland

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tiefenbrunnen_-_Strandbad_Tiefenbrunnen_2011-10-26_14-29-42.JPG


Josef Schütz, Otto Dürr, and Hans Nussbaumer

Type of Area

Natural lake

Land/water interaction


Built Environment Types

Highly built
Low green

Scale of Impact


Intervention Scale (Spatial)

Small site

Project Types

Outdoor recreation
Public space regeneration

Urban/ Rural

Inner urban area

Visibility and Openness

Partly enclosed
Partly contained

Reviving public bathing areas

Public outdoor bathing areas have a long history in Switzerland. The first was built in 1822 on the Hofwil estate after a local pupil drowned while bathing in the nearby lake, the Moossee. Public bathing areas have evolved from enclosed places to a more recreational focus, often including sunbathing areas, beaches, picnic areas and sports facilities. The Swiss lidos are an inspiration as a waterfront site focused on public amenities rather than an industrial site. Swiss cities often lack public spaces and so the lido offers rare outdoor public access. 

Tiefenbrunnen lido, which replaced a box pool built in 1886, is situated in Zurich, on the lake Zurichsee. It was built in 1954 and designed by Schütz, Dürr and Nussbaumer. It includes a shaded tea pavilion, a viewing terrace with views across the water to the mountains and a garden in a style typical of the era. The main entrance is emphasized by circular concrete mushrooms and rare tree species can be found in the garden. 

Water treatment in the 1970s reduced pollutants, such as phosphorus that results in algal blooms in the lake, ensuring a safer recreational experience. On cool summer evenings when swimming is not the best option the public baths turn into an open-air bar, with cushions piled on the decks and lights strung in the trees, making it an ideal place to socialise. 

The most recent phased development at Tiefenbrunnen includes a wooden circular pier providing a shallow lake-pool for non-swimmers, a children’s paddling pool, diving platforms and long slide into the bathing area, making this an ideal place for families with young children. The place also includes single-sex naturist areas and recreational opportunities such as paddle board rental, massage, yoga and pilates. 

The water can be accessed via stone steps with a non-slip grille or smooth stones at the water’s edge making it easy to enter the water without getting muddy feet. The stones also provide a place to sit or lay and observe the view. Other amenities include a cycle path along the lake promenade, a volleyball net, table tennis, a playground, and a boules/petanque court.

Perception and Meaning

Place attachment

Health and Wellbeing

Increased socialisation
Increased physical activities

Interaction with Water

Tactile – fully in water

The ratings show the site scores well in most aspects. It has excellent accessibility and is connected to the city street and pedestrian and cycle routes. It is also easily reached by tram or car, with disabled parking spaces available. 

Accessibility is high within the site as there are many opportunities to reach the now cleaner lake via stone steps or stony sloping areas down into the water. Although, access is limited for those with wheelchairs due to the lack of ramps into the water, the railings do, however, aid those with limited mobility. 

The circular bathing area provides a safe place for the swimmers away from boats. Lighting in the area, however, could be improved. Shade is provided by the trees on the lakeside but there is no shelter on the circular bathing area itself.

The water connection for this site is high as the site includes many facilities for recreation and relaxation, which adds to this green and blue space in a city with little access to the lake on which it is sited. There are also many ways of enjoying the water, from contemplation to a gentle swim or for the more adventurous, a slide.