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Thread: Amicale Solvay, Charelroi, Belgium, November 2019

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    Default Amicale Solvay, Charelroi, Belgium, November 2019


    1. The History
    The modernist leisure centre of Amicale Solvay is located in Couillet, in Belgian city of Charleroi and was built to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary. It takes its name from Ernest Solvay (1838-1922) and his brother Alfred who chose Couillet as the location to set up their chemicals factory in 1865, due to the presence of raw materials and the proximity of soda consumers, metallurgy and glassmaking. Construction was started in 1937 and completed in the final quarter of 1938 to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary, for use by their workers. Designed by architect Eléazar Cozac (1893-1977), it was built to house a swimming pool, a 700-seater theatre, a casino, a restaurant and provide other multi-purpose spaces. It is one of a pair of identical buildings that were built, the other being at Jemeppe-sur-Sambre.

    The original architect’s plans:

    PISCINE AMICALE SOLVAY plans by HughieDW, on Flickr

    A photo from in its heyday:

    20191130_171937 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And the pool itself:

    20191130_174014 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The building remained in the ownership of the company until 1994, when it was sold to Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). With the pool getting old and the maintenance and repairs too expensive, the pool was closed in 1998. In 2000, the building was classified as “Walloon Heritage” on the basis of its facades, roof, entrance rotunda and being a typical example of a 1930s indoor pool. In 2004 the building was closed by ULB and sold on to a non-profit organisation, the European Islamic Center for Culture and Dialogue (CIECD). Their intention to make it into a mosque/Islamic training centre. Despite starting internal work, the project never came to realisation because of financial problems with the association. Since then, the building has remained empty and abandoned and in an advanced state of degradation. A very recent development was its sale this year (2019) to CACC sprl. The current owners have ambitious plans for the building. The first is to seal the building, the second to renovate the exterior and then finally renovate the interior, with a view to returning it back to its original use as a swimming pool. However, currently none of these plans seem to have been rolled out and the plans of returning it back to a swimming pool will depend on securing funding from various public institutions.

    2. The Explore
    So, the day returning from Ghent back to Charleroi didn’t quite turn out as well as the way up three day’s earlier. The weather was beautiful but left Ghent late after having to take my bestie to hospital to get checked out. Once on the road my first two stops turned out to be fails. The first one I couldn’t find a way in (an old lingerie factory of all places) and the second, a former factory complex, had full-scale renovation going on. Running out of time (and light) I headed to the big sites of Charleroi. With live secca buzzing around and not enough time to do the sites justice I decided to head off to a smaller site on the other side of town. I got to Amicale Solvay as the sun was setting. Fortunately, it was an easy in and I started snapping away. It’s a really beautiful building. I bumped into four female Belgium explorers who seemed surprised I’d found the way here for England to explore this place. Inexplicably I didn’t get down to the basement to photograph the pool. Perhaps the toll of the previous four days had taken their toll. Despite that, at least I didn’t finish my final day drawing a blank.

    3. The Pictures

    Some façade:



    Charleroi Pool 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4481 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Charleroi Pool 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4450 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Charleroi Pool 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4459 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    A quick look at the function hall:

    img4477 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4479 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4477 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    But this is the main attraction and what we came for:

    img4455 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4451 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4452 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4457 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4460 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4466 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4468 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img4470 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Charleroi Pool 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Charleroi Pool 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Charleroi Pool 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And just for completeness, a couple of pictures of the pool that I inexcusably overlooked from another photographer; both © Alan Cuypers.

    L'Amicale Solvay-57 by Alan Cuypers, on Flickr

    L'Amicale Solvay-56 by Alan Cuypers, on Flickr

  2. Thanks given by: etc100, Hugh Jorgan, KJurbex, Mearing
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  4. #2
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    Thats really cool, well captured (apart from the 4th pic which plays havoc with my ocd lol).
    Still cant believe how much u packed in!
    What the hell am I doing, I mean really at my age!

  5. Thanks given by: HughieD
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikinGlynn View Post
    Thats really cool, well captured (apart from the 4th pic which plays havoc with my ocd lol).
    Still cant believe how much u packed in!
    Ha ha. Cheers mate. Yeah...that first day was crazy. 5 big sites and five successes.

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