200 years ago, parks were incorporated into cities. Today, 'beach life' can also reach the hearts of cities.
A revolutionary alternative of high social impact that promises to change urban living is gaining ground. Known as Public Access Lagoons (PAL), an innovative concept developed and patented by the multinational water innovation company, Crystal Lagoons, it will bring beach life projects to the heart of large cities, with white sand beaches and monumental crystalline lagoons, in which people can swim and practice water sports in. With the capacity to receive more than one million visits a year, these large bodies of water can incorporate cultural and entertainment centers and amenities, easily accessed via ticketed entry or, alternatively, can be enjoyed free of charge from the contemplation areas.
PALs are changing the lives of millions of people living in urban settings by bringing a portion of the ocean to their doorstep, similar to what happened 200 years ago when urban parks were created. Today, most cities around the world consider parks and green areas as part of their configuration. The same phenomenon is happening with public access lagoons. People will no longer have to travel to the ocean; they’ll find it on their doorstep.
The expansion is palpable, with over 60 projects in different stages of planning and construction in all five continents. Specifically, in Spain, the US, Indonesia, Turkey, Dubai, Central America, Australia, Chile, and Thailand, where the country's first PAL was recently inaugurated. In the US, several projects are spread throughout California, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Pittsburgh, and Arizona. In Central America, 18 PALs will be developed in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, and Belize.
These projects respond to an unsatisfied need: the absence of bodies of water that allow for bathing within densely populated cities. Furthermore, when similar sandy areas alongside rivers have opened to the public, they have rapidly attracted multitudes of people, despite their precarious infrastructure. This reflects a need within the community that has, until now, gone unnoticed.
Public beaches imply traveling by car or plane and, in general, dispose of little or no facilities. PALs, on the other hand, are places that can be accessed by foot, offering a full range of cultural activities such as concerts, shows, and open-air cinemas. They have the capacity to become attractive centers for urban dwellers, with restaurants, amphitheaters, event centers, cafés, retail, beach clubs, water sports and much more. They allow for a wide range of activities, regardless of weather conditions, since they can be shielded, either completely or partially, by domes.
PALs have the capacity to make transformative urban changes within cities around the globe and add significant value to urban areas. Their construction and maintenance costs are on par with those associated to a park of similar dimensions, yet use half the amount of water, meaning they ensure rational and sustainable use of water resources. Furthermore, they can be used intensively by vast numbers of visitors.
PALs provide a safe and inclusive environment in which visitors can enjoy an urban body of water, through a carefully created ecosystem that includes entertainment, architecture, atmosphere, landscaping, and amenities. Part of the experience is down to the different resources and entertainment areas, which include crystalline waters, white sand beaches, wooden decks that shape the lagoon shoreline, boulevards, picnic areas, restaurants, cafés, along with amphitheaters for events, concerts and other cultural activities.
'PALs can be harmoniously assimilated into public areas found in cities, so long as they incorporate local urban architecture into their design. They must coincide with the overall urban plan, including land use and zoning codes as well as economic, environmental, and transportation impacts that they may potentially imply,' says the engineer Chris Falce, Vice President of Kimley-Horn, one of the design and engineering companies in the US that is currently contributing to the majority of Crystal Lagoons projects in North America.
PALs are rapidly expanding due to the fact that they can be intensively used and because they allow investors to rapidly recoup their investment.
One success story is in the US, where the first private real estate project to include a lagoon - despite being located in a suburban area 40 minutes away from Tampa, Florida - opened its doors to the community when it identified a demand for beach living. The result was so remarkable that it has often had to close its doors to the public so as to control the flow of visitors.
To leverage the huge potential PALs have to offer, Crystal Lagoons has invited relevant actors from different markets to take part in this revolution and has formed alliances with important developers, racetracks, public parks, and shopping malls, amongst others.
Crystal Lagoons offers its revolutionary and globally patented technology to its partners, as well as construction and maintenance guidelines for its monumental bodies of crystalline water, which require up to 100 times fewer chemicals and just 2% of the energy needed by conventional swimming pool filtration systems. Additionally, the team collaborates and shares its know-how with their partners, so that developers and architects can create inspiring projects, that are coherent in terms of scale, character, and density with regards to the local environment and the city they are found in. The firm provides design guides and flexible landscaping guidelines that are compatible with native flora as well as being environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Forward-thinking Fernando Fischmann, the scientist and innovator who founded Crystal Lagoons, adamantly believes that PALs can change city living definitively, on all socioeconomic levels, regardless of if they are found in developing or developed countries.
The concept is a transcendental legacy which will change city living and will continue to be part of the urban evolution, offering a new and memorable urban experience in tune with our times.