Thames Baths plan for wild swimming in central London

Aug 15, 2014

Designs for a swimming pool floating off the Victoria Embankment have Boris Johnson's backing

Picture Plane

Plans to bring wild swimming to the centre of London, with a series of floating pools in the Thames, have been unveiled.

The latest designs, by architects at Studio Octopi, are for three pools secured just off the Victoria Embankment near Temple Tube station. They form part of a wider Thames Baths project that also includes plans for a river-water lido at Blackfriars, says the Evening Standard.

The Temple Baths would use fresh rather than Thames water, Studio Octopi co-director Chris Romer-Lee explained. "Swimming in them would feel like you were swimming in the Thames without any of the danger of doing so," he said. "We want to create a controlled environment where it is safe to wild swim."

The scheme has been announced in time for an exhibition called Urban Plunge: New Designs for Natural Swimming in Our Cities, which opens at the Roca London Gallery in September.

The idea rides the "tidal wave of renewed interest in escaping the chlorinated confines of public pools", says The Guardian, which notes that the "growing culture of 'wild' swimming [has been] spurred on by a boom in triathlons".

The idea of swimming in the Thames also has the backing of Mayor Boris Johnson, who is keen, says the paper, to "cement his credentials as the chief funster-mayor".

London's Evening Standard is also behind the idea, which says it could help regenerate the north bank of the Thames.

The Temple Baths plans come after Studio Octopi proposed an even more radical plan, involving a river-water lido floating in the Thames at Blackfriars last year.

Thames Baths Blackfriars; image by Picture Plane

But even though the Thames is now a relatively clean river, "the development could not go ahead currently as when the city's sewers overflow they leave tonnes of waste in the river," explains the Standard. "The Blackfriars pools would therefore have to wait until the completion of the proposed £4.2bn 'super sewer' – which, if construction goes ahead, could be finished by 2023."

Images by Picture Plane for Studio Octopi

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