ZELENÁ ŽABA - OUTDOOR SWIMMING POOL 

Bohuslav Fuchs, 1937

National historic monument



As a personal creation of Bohuslav Fuchs, one of the most beautiful European summer outdoor swimming pools is situated in the forest above the town. Its location in the heart of nature, the reef of the old quarry and the wavy contour of the forest clearing, make it a unique place. In 1935, the spa´s director Jan Topinka initiated an architect tender for a new outdoor swimming pool to replace the old declining lido at the Baračka Lake. Bohuslav Fuchs came up with the idea, not to locate the new recreation facility in the valley but on the contrary, above the town, onto the southern sunny slopes of the Grófovec hill. As it often happens with simlarly unique concepts, the author as the only competitor, stepped out of the line and fought, in a lone conviction, for the non-traditional location in the old quarry, close to the mountain spring Zelená Žaba. The author of the unconventional solution gained an enthusiastic partner in the director Topinka. The building was approved. The freedom of design gave life to a unique building. It is probably one of the first creations of Fuchs, a famous and successful Brno architect, which starts using curves to inconspicuously leave the stern geometric orthogonal functionalism and tends to be more lyrical. The main ground-plan curve determines the character of the whole building. Two floors of changing rooms line the contour on the forest boundary in a fine curve. It is not the landscape that adapts to the building, but the building succumbs to nature. In the first years of operation, the green of forest background was brightened by a modernist range of blue, red and yellow. Zelená Žaba (Green Frog) did not use to be originally green. Its facades were repainted green later. 

The concrete pool was placed into an elevated platform set in the central part of the quarry. The swimming pool was one of the first in Europe to use night lighting. There was an underground passage built for the maintenance of the lights system. Zelená Žaba is a far cry from the city swimming pool typology. Its function was not to provide recreation to working people, but to offer pleasure and experience of bathing and entertainment in nature. This is why it involves a background building, where the visitors could enjoy the services of a tavern, café and restaurant on top floor during the entire operation of the swimming pool between 1937 and 2011. The function of the catering services buildings might have been of an equivalent importance as the swimming pool´s function.  The pull-out glass walls of the restaurant enabled opening the whole interior into the vast distances and views of the Teplička valley. The architecture provided recreation for both body and soul.

The building site was visited by President Edvard Beneš in 1936. After the opening, Zelená Žaba was a popular destination for long decades and it belonged to the most well-known summer outdoor swimming pools in Slovakia. Moreover, the spirit of nostalgia and wonderful experiences of youth outweighed the fact that the architecture of the place belongs to the most valuable of central Europe of the 20th century. The swimming pool was reconstructed in 2014 and 2015. The original building has not been restored as a historic monument and instead, it has surrendered to the contemporary trend of adaptation to modern tourism. We can only hope that the loss of the precious original gives Zelená Žaba its second life, at least as happy and successful as the first one.