Sentralbadet, Bergen’s Graffitied Swimming Pool Building

The Sentralbadet complex in Bergen

photography by: Omri Westmark

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More often than not, the abandonment of buildings is widely regarded as a negative phenomenon. However, in practice, it also provides an opportunity for urban renewal or a hotspot for urbex enthusiasts. The days of glory of Bergen's first swimming pool might be long gone, yet its current and future reincarnations are nothing short of remarkable.

Located in Teatergaten Street, next to Bergen’s main ferry terminal, Sentralbadet might seem unassuming at first glance. Nevertheless, in 1960, the currently abandoned building was inaugurated as the city’s first, state of the art swimming pool complex, soon becoming a source of local pride and inspiration. Designed by architect Halfdan B. Grieg, the massive edifice was home to a 25-meter-long pool, a carbonated bath, Roman baths, a steam bath, a restaurant and even Norway’s first bowling alley.


While three out of the building’s four facades only had a narrow sliver of windows, its rear had a massive glass wall facing the nearby Pudde Fjord. As the curtain wall was situated right next to the main pool, swimmers were bestowed with a breathtaking view of Bergen’s coastline and fjord.

During the early 1980’s, parts of complex were thoroughly renovated. However, in 2014, the swimming pool was permanently closed when a brand new sport complex known as the AdO Arena was opened on the shores of Store Lungegårdsvannet. In the years that followed, the building was repurposed for several uses, including a Covid vaccination center and the venue of Gingerbread Town, a miniature park made entirely of you guessed it right, gingerbread.


At the same time, the local authorities decided to grant graffiti artists a permission to cover the semi-abandoned building with a series of quaint murals, the most conspicuous of which is a 30-meter tall and 6-meter-wide drawing of several cartoonish animals, located on the northern façade. Recently, the municipality of Bergen approved a plan to convert Sentralbadet into a dance and performing arts center. It is not clear yet when and if this plan will be executed, but for the time being, the building remains a magnet for urban explorers and muralists alike.