London architecture firm Studio Octopi has developed a concept that will transform part of the River Thames into public pools that will allow swimmers to take a quick dip while taking in magnificent views of the city.
The proposal was developed in response to the city water supplier’s decision to upgrade London’s centuries-old sewage system. Thames Water has plans to construct a new tunnel, called Super Sewer, which will remove 96 percent of the sewage that is currently entering the river, leading to a huge improvement in water purity. The Super Sewer is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Studio Octopi’s design calls for building pools at two of the Super Sewer construction sites: Shadwell in the east and Blackfriars Bridge in central London. The architects collaborated with structural engineering specialist Civic Engineers to develop the project, which includes a pair of pools supported by a concrete slab and raised to the height of the river’s water at high tide so that the pools can be replenished with fresh river water. An additional pool made from concrete waffle slabs anchored to stationary posts will float on the surface of the water, rising and falling with the tide. The pools will be surrounded by concrete decks with cast-in air pockets to provide swimmers places to rest.
Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects contributed ideas for landscape design, drawing up plans to enhance the natural look of the pools by introducing reeds to fringe the floating pool and perennials and ferns along the wharf edge. As time goes on, algae, ferns and saline plants would cover the supporting structure and native plants would take root.
Studio Octopi’s plan was one of five proposals put forward by teams selected to submit ideas for a project called London As It Could Be Now, developed by The Architecture Foundation with firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.