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Sky Pool, London

A view of the Sky Pool from ground level

The Sky Pool is a swimming pool at the Embassy Gardens development in the Nine Elms region of Wandsworth, a borough of southwest London. It is suspended 115 feet (35 m) above the ground and forms a bridge between two tall apartment buildings. Unveiled in May 2021, the pool was criticized as emblematic of economic inequalities in London.

Location

The pool is situated in the Embassy Gardens development in the Nine Elms region of Wandsworth. It was built by EcoWorld Ballymore. The pool is the world's first "floating" swimming pool,[1][2] and bridges a gap between two high-rise apartment buildings in the development. It is suspended 115 feet (35 m) above the ground.[3] The pool is situated on the Sky Deck of the development and is only accessible to members of the EG:le Club for residents at Embassy Gardens.[1][3] The Sky Deck also features a spa, orangery, and bar.[1] The pool is not accessible to shared-ownership residents of Embassy Gardens.[4][5]

Design

View from under the Sky Pool taken with a polarised lens showing the stress-induced birefringence of partially polarised skylight

Extending between the two Legacy buildings of the Embassy Gardens development, the pool is heated and is 82 feet (25 m) in length; it is the middle 45-foot (14 m) section of the pool that is suspended.[1] The roof area was not large enough to accommodate a pool, and so the concept of the "floating pool" was developed.[1] The suspended design of the pool is considered essential to preserve its large size without losing any additional floor space on the roof of the building.[1] Steps into the pool and filtration systems are situated at either end of the pool.[1] Architectural Digest wrote that the pool is believed to be the "world's largest single piece of load-bearing acrylic".[1] The acrylic frame weighs 50 tonnes (49 long tons; 55 short tons); it is 8 inches (200 mm) thick with a 12-inch (300 mm) thick base and is nearly 10 feet (3.0 m) in depth, resting on an invisible steel frame.[1] The structure that forms the pool was fabricated in the United States, in Colorado, by acrylic engineers Reynolds Polymer, Inc., and shipped from Texas in a three-week journey.[1] It was designed by the structural engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan and HAL Architects.[1]

Reception

The pool opened to residents of Embassy Gardens on 19 May 2021. The opening ceremony was hosted by broadcaster Roman Kemp and featured a performance by Aquabatix, a synchronised swimming team.[1][2] A short clip taken by a BBC News helicopter of people in the pool was viewed 10 million times.[6]

The architecture critic Oliver Wainwright, writing in The Guardian, described the pool as a "miraculous world first" and a "liquid blue block suspended against the sky" that had the "gravity-defying quality" of a painting by René Magritte.[4] Jessica Cherner, writing in Architectural Digest, felt that the transparency of the pool "mak[es] it appear like a rectangular glass box floating in mid-air".[1]

Sociological critiques

Wainwright critiqued the pool as "a fantastical aquarium of captive high net worth individuals for the rest of us to gawp at from far below".[4] Writing for Bloomberg News, in an article entitled "This Swimming Pool in the Sky Is the Ultimate Symbol of London's Affordability Crisis", Kriston Capps felt that the pool "secures an ultra-elite experience at the cost of casually insulting a city in the grips of an affordable-housing crisis" and that "there is a risk that comes with giving profligate wealth physical form and insisting on its transparency. It’s easy to imagine an excessively, aggressively exclusionary amenity becoming a focal point for anger over London’s extreme income inequality and affordable housing, at a time when activism on these topics is growing more intense".[7] Capps described the pool as an "impossibly wondrous amenity" and a "jewel in plain sight of all but out of reach to almost everyone" and the developers have "[dangled] a potent symbol of inequality over all of London's heads".[7] Writing for the New Statesman, Anoosh Chakelian felt the pool was a "compelling visible symbol of the housing inequality and uneven housebuilding rampant in the capital".[6]

Songwriter Grace Petrie said that there was "good reason to hate" the pool "on political grounds".[8] The urban studies academic Rowland Atkinson described the pool as a "cyclopean wet lens" in his 2021 book, Alpha City, and felt that the rooftop garden of Embassy Gardens "emphatically express[ed] the occupation of the city by a global, free-floating capitalist class".[9]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Cherner, Jessica (30 April 2021). "Suspended 115 Feet in the Air, the World's First Floating Pool Is Unveiled in London". Architectural Digest. Archived from the original on 30 April 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b Charsley, Monica (28 April 2021). "World's first floating sky pool set to open in Wandsworth". Your Local Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 April 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b McKeever, Vicky (28 April 2021). "World's first 'floating' sky pool to open in London in May". CNBC. Archived from the original on 28 April 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Wainwright, Oliver (28 April 2021). "Penthouses and poor doors: how Europe's 'biggest regeneration project' fell flat". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 February 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  5. ^ Gross, Jenny (2 June 2021). "A See-Through Pool Opens 10 Stories Above London". New York Times. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b Chakelian, Anoosh (20 August 2015). "The problem with the Nine Elms sky pool lies six miles east". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 2 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b Capps, Kriston (20 August 2015). "This Swimming Pool in the Sky Is the Ultimate Symbol of London's Affordability Crisis". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 25 November 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  8. ^ Young, Gregor (2 June 2021). "Sky Pool: London's floating pool, suspended 115 feet in the air, sparks debate". The National (Scotland). Archived from the original on 1 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  9. ^ Atkinson, Rowland (4 May 2021). Alpha City: How London Was Captured by the Super-Rich. Verso Books. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-78873-798-2. Archived from the original on 14 October 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.

51°28′55″N 0°07′52″W / 51.4820°N 0.1310°W / 51.4820; -0.1310

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Sky Pool, London
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