The trend of open air baths in the midst of the city
Seaside swimming baths go back a long way. To be precise the custom of swimming in the sea began early in the eighteenth century, when the healing properties of salt water were first discovered. At that time the baths were enclosed buildings which hid the coy bathers from the eyes of the public and also ensured strict separation of male and female bathers. However swimming bath architecture has recently been making a comeback and is now manifesting itself in entirely new contexts.
Copenhagen Harbour Bath between parks and industry, by PLOT=JDS+BIG
In cities like Berlin the first indications of this trend appeared a few years ago, when more or less improvised bathing facilities began to liven up the summer landscape along the Spree and the Landwehr canal. Even though the wish to have an urban bathing facility will remain unsatisfied in Berlin – the water quality is simply to low – the desire for a refreshing jump in the water is obvious. But in many other cities urban open-air baths in top locations have become very much part of the official leisure facilities by now.
Less urban, but distinctive: The Kastrup Sea Bath in Copenhagen, by the swedish White Architects, Photos: Åke E:son Lindman
The combination of artificially created pools and an authentic lakeside, seaside or harbour view has for a number of years now generated a wide range of projects which are intended to enrich the quality of city life. Such facilities combine the practical aspects of an artificially constructed pool with the atmosphere of a city panorama. The problem of water pollution can be solved in a localised manner and hazards can be controlled.
The Aalborg Harbour Bath by JDS Architects
The Open Air Bath in Dublin which is being planned by JDS Architects from Copenhagen is a modern Ponte Vecchio. In order to revitalise the developing port region, a link has been designed between the harbour area and the inner city across Dublin's Grand Canal. In addition to a café this organic hybrid of a footbridge and leisure island contains a children's pool, a diving pool and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Dublin Docks Bath by JDS Architects
So high time to look for our swimming costumes and go for a swim!