One Great Jones Alley
Living pools [#1] , such as the Biotop Natural Pool, are a great example of how we can look to nature to create healthy, low-impact spaces. Natural swimming pools are miniature ecologies. The water is cycled between the pool and a regeneration zone where impurities and excess nutrients are decomposed by plants and microorganisms. A chemical-free pool has many benefits; besides being less hazardous to health and environment, it can offer completely different spatial experiences. Think about the multi-sensory experience of swimming in a conventional pool versus that of swimming in a freshwater lake. Learn more in the Inhabitat piece “Gorgeous Natural Swimming Pool Uses No Chlorine.”
Swimming architecture [#2] exists throughout the world, including the above pictured rooftop infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, by Moshe Safdie. The direct, full-bodied experience of water is an essential way for humans to connect with the natural world. Swimming is an intensely immersive sensory experience. Pools serve as a connection to one of Earth’s and all of life’s essential elements, and they also provide an opportunity for architecture to highlight and enhance the experience of water. See more examples in this round up of “19 incredible natural swimming pools” by 1 Kindesign.
The designers of + Pool envision East River swimming for everyone [#3]. They’re working with a development team to create a floating pool that will act as a filter, allowing swimmers to swim in the river’s water without exposing themselves to the many harmful pollutants currently found in it. The overall goal of the project is creating a public space that is open and accessible to all, which is quite an imaginative and optimistic strategy for reclaiming polluted urban space. Learn more from the + Pool team themselves or in this overview by It’s Nice That.
Social pools [#4] have a rich history, which is discussed in-depth in the book “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.” In this history of municipal pools, Jeff Wiltse covers topics such as changing ideas of cleanliness, social interaction, and inequality, and ultimately offers a reminder of the importance of providing universal access in creating sustainable public space. Learn more in the NPR piece “Plunging into Public Pools’ Contentious Past,” and check out the details of New York City’s own free outdoor pools.
photos by Biotop Natural Pool, Flickr user Jonathan Rieke, + Pool, and UNC Press.