London's central waterway, the River Thames, has been a site of enormous interest from architects and urbanists in previous years. From a controversial garden bridge to discussions about how to appropriate what has been described as one of the city's largest untapped public spaces, London-based practice studio octopi have now launched a Kickstarter campaign to help to realise their dream of creating "a new, natural, beautiful lido" on its banks.
Endorsed by a number of renowned and respected Londoners, including Turner-prize winning artist Tracey Emin, architect Ivan Harbour (RSHP), and Tim Marlow, a director at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), the ambition is to raise at least £125,000 (around $190,000 or €175,000) in order to seek planning permission for the Thames Baths project.
Find out more about the project and how you can support it after the break.
In essence, the design is a floating pontoon which rises and falls with the tide. The pools, filled with water from the river itself, will be passed through a bespoke filtration system making the water crystal clear. The designs incorporate two pools and a large publicly accessible decked area.
Their idea dates back to 2013, when it was launched as part of the London As It Could Be Now programme developed by The Architecture Foundation alongside Richard Rogers and the RA. Having been selected as one of five groups (see all five here) to envision new ideas for activity on the Thames, their proposal became more concrete in 2014 when they formally released plans for a floating freshwater pool off the Victoria Embankment. According to its architects, "this [latest] design is a more workable and scalable design and one that the team believe can be delivered within two years."
Chris Romer-Lee, founder of studio octopi, has "always wanted to build something that benefited the community and allowed them to participate in its creation." This is a key reason why the decision has been made to crowd fund on Kickstarter. "We want Londoners, swimmers and anyone passionate about urban waterways to show their support for this project and what better way than a very public campaign." It will be run as a social enterprise, rather than a company dictated by profit: a public space created for the people that use it, not those that own it. This commitment is reflected in that fact that last month Thames Baths was incorporated as a Community Interest Company.
"For years I have always been saying there is no reason why London can’t make more of the river and what better way to use it then create Thames Baths for the people of London to swim in." ― Tracey Emin CBE
"I think Thames Baths is a truly exciting project for the capital. So often we forget about the natural resources that are at the heart of the city - the resources that have made London great." ― Megan Piper (founder of The Line)
"Thames Baths has the potential to revolutionise the way Londoners view and experience their river by reclaiming it as public realm to be enjoyed by all and making the dream of taking a safe and enjoyable plunge in its waters an everyday reality." ― Ivan Harbour (Senior Partner, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners)
The Kickstarter campaign will run until the 23rd May 2015. Rewards range from a free swim in the completed lido to site and studio visits during the project's realisation.