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Few architectural typologies have the power to invoke a sense of being dual-natured quite like the modernist swimming pool can. The design of pools themselves implies that there are moments of activity both above and below the water. Above, and in the more obvious and visible sense, pools act as a space for leisure and athletic training. But underneath the surface, swimming pools have a long-standing history of acting as symbols of surveillance, death, and social conditions associated with an economic class. The evocative smell and lingering tackiness of chlorine paired with the continuous movement of water as it reflects and provides transparency are hyper-specific characteristics of swimming pools. When combined with the social experience of semi-nudity, the ability to find individual freedom in a public space is revealed. Swimming pools increased in popularity in the United States as the middle class expanded and the commercialization and references to pop culture turned them into places of mass leisure. As segregation ended in the 1960s, people of all races were allowed to enter public pools, creating a new social condition where collective activities occurred. Over time, individualism prevailed, homeowners began to want their own place of aquatic escapism to use as they pleased, and the concept of the private backyard pool was popularized.  View more View full description
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