Our journalist takes a dip ahead of next week’s public opening
Ooze Architects has completed its King’s Cross Pond Club, a temporary artwork and swimming pool at the northern end of the construction site.
The 25m pond, which is due to open in the next week, is the UK’s first man-made freshwater bathing pond.
Rotterdam-based Ooze – Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg – collaborated with artist Marjetica Potrč to design the pond. Called Of Soil and Water, it is the final of four public art projects at Argent’s King’s Cross development curated by Michael Pinsky and Stephanie Delcroix under the banner Relay.
It has been created on an artificial hill, giving it views over the 30ha King’s Cross site. Plants at one end of the pond provide a natural purification system.
The pond, which only has planning permission for two years, is surrounded by grass and plants and overlooked by a viewing deck for non-swimmers. There are cold open-air showers, cage lockers and red-and-white changing rooms. The whole thing is enclosed by open red-and-white fencing. In a couple of years it will all be bulldozed and the new Lewis Cubitt Park extended on to the site.
Ian Freshwater, asset manager at developer King’s Cross Central, predicted the pond would boost other open water swimming projects such as Studio Octopi’s Thames Bath scheme which has raised £83,000 on Kickstarter.
Pfannes said: “We get our inspiration from the way we live and put it together with the urban to adapt how we live.
“Sustainability is very broad and abstract. In our work we try to make it something you can experience with your own body. Swimming is the most free way of experiencing the city – and the most sensitive because you strip off all your layers.”
The pond is surrounded by constructions sites, juxtaposing an evolving natural environment with an evolving urban environment, added Hartenberg.
The public opening date and swimming prices will be announced shortly.
The curators for the next three-year art programme at King’s Cross are also due to be announced by Argent soon.
Come on in, the water’s lovely
The King’s Cross pop-up pond is a welcome addition to London’s delightful but inadequate selection of outdoor swimming places.
When it opens next week there will be maybe a little under a million citizens served by each lido or lake in the capital.
The only shame is its temporary lifespan, courtesy of Camden council. In two years it will be swept away so the very pocket Lewis Cubitt Park can be extended. But if a landscaped swimming pond is not something that might be found in a park, what is?
Even on the particularly shivering morning of BD’s test-swim it was a pleasure to bathe in, thanks to the naturally purified London tap water which tasted good enough to drink. Which is more than can be said when BD test-swam the Thames for you.
It’s essentially a lido because the walls and unexpectedly smooth bottom are man-made, but as the plants grow it should feel a bit wilder. It can’t compete with the expansive charms of the Serpentine or the bucolic feel of Hampstead but instead it offers suitably urban views of the heroic construction sites around it. Swimming in the middle of a building site is a curiously thrilling experience.
The pool’s elevated position on an artificial hill is its principal disadvantage as well as its trump card: there’s no shelter from the wind – until you’ve lowered yourself under the unheated water.
Ooze has also done a lovely job with the planting and jaunty red-and-white changing rooms. The viewing platform (not open on our visit) is a nice idea for the non-swimmers.
I predict a riot, as soon as the sun comes out.
This story first appeared on Building Design.