Google has been raising eyebrows with the construction of three massive barges that are currently moored in San Francisco, Portland, and Maine. The Internet behemoth has been fairly tight-lipped about the barges, leaving news sources to speculate over their purpose. Are they floating data centers? Trendy party boats? Continue reading
While we’re on the topic of floating New York pools, we should also take a look at the Floating Pool Lady. Yes, as it turns out, New York actually already has a floating pool, and one that doesn’t require $500,000 in donations before you can go swimming in it.
Of course, the Floating Pool Lady (what a peculiar name) isn’t quite as high tech as the +Pool. Basically, architect Jonathan Kirschenfeld took a barge, scooped out its metallic guts, and replaced it with a seven lane swimming pool. This idea, while neat, isn’t exactly revolutionary, as a floating barge swimming pool has already been done a few times.
Still, the Floating Pool Lady does have a few features that help it to stand out. A raised court overlooks the swimming lanes and holds a variety of conveniences that make this swimming pool modern and popular. It is complete with separate locker rooms, showers, and snack bars for when swimmers are feeling hungry. It’s even got a neat little spray fountain for kids to romp around in and get their legs wet.
After taking a look at the Floating Pool Lady’s price tag, however, the +Pool does look a little bit more tempting. The Neptune Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to building floating swimming pools, raised a whopping $4 million to buy the old barge and do the necessary reconstruction to convert it into a pool. If they really needed that much money to do the work, then the $500,000 +Pool looks like a deal at only one-eighth of the cost.
The Floating Pool Lady has gradually been paying itself off by providing hours of entertainment and splashy fun for New York locals. Since opening on 2007’s Independence Day, this floating pool has hosted an estimated 50,000 swimmers. In fact, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was the first person to strap on some swim trunks and jump in the pool, officially announcing its release to the public. For now, the barge is docked at Baretto Point Park. Take a look; you can easily spot it in the picture.
Pick any random city on planet earth, and take a look at it on Google Maps. Odds are, that city will be near the ocean, next to a lake, or have a river running through it. There are exceptions, of course. Las Vegas is out in the middle of the desert, and Atlanta doesn’t have much water around it.
There’s a very sensible reason for this trend. Most cities began in a time before cars and planes, so people needed water to get around. Bodies of water are economically useful and beautiful to look at, but by and large most city folk don’t really interact with rivers all that much.
In fact, the city where I live, Pittsburgh, is a great example. Three rivers intersect pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the city. While the rivers offer a peaceful view in a busy city, the rivers can really be rather annoying because of the traffic bottlenecks they create.
By and large, river and lake real estate is vastly underutilized. They provide a pretty view, sure, but you’ll almost never see a Pittsburgher splashing about in the Ohio River.
That’s why the floating park designs in Budapest and the French city of Boudreaux are so brilliant. Each of these cities has created a barge to act a sort of floating park, complete with a lounging area and swimming pool. These barges provide locals a way to interact with the rivers that are simultaneously so familiar and so alien.
Most people won’t go swimming in city rivers because they’re perceived as dirty and they can be somewhat difficult to access. You’ll rarely see people swimming across city rivers, but those same people will happily take a dip in a swimming pool that’s floating on the river. Maybe it’s just a hygiene issue, but the filtered pools on these barges seem to make all the difference for locals who want to go for a swim.
One of the best features about these barges is that architects can create massive parks without acquiring enormous stretches of land. In cities where vacant real estate is precious, moving to the water is one of the wisest and cheapest options available.
Hopefully, this barge idea will spread to other cities and we will see more mobile floating parks spring up in major metropolises.
After reviewing France’s new recycled barge water park, it would be unfair to ignore Hungary’s Barge Beach Budapest, a similar floating park that follows green principles and allows visitors to lounge in the sun.
Designed by Urban Landscape Group, Barge Beach Budapest is a floating pool and mobile public space that drifts along the Danube River. Much like France’s barge, this barge was constructed out of recycled materials. Rather than using shipping containers to create rooms, however, this Hungarian barge favors a much freer, open-air design. This barge is much less like a building, and more just like an enormous floating platform circled by railings.
BBB is made out of 3 recycled barges, which previously used to carry coal and stone along the river. Now, it carries lazy summer beach bums and swimmers. While the recycled barges are a great example of green thinking, the designers of the BBB were not quite as bold as their French counterparts. The BBB pumps water from the city into the pool, rather than filtering water from the river. It seems a bit silly to go through all the trouble of recycling old barges only to increase future expenses by requiring the pool to take in water from external sources.
Ignoring for a moment just how green these barges are, these projects represent an excellent trend in aquatic architecture. Floating structures are a popular topic on this blog, and for good reason, but simple and easily accessible floating structures such as the Barge Beach Budapest are good first steps towards a future wherein floating housing is viable. If you have to crawl before you can walk, and eventually run, then floating parks and pool barges are great ways to experiment with the feasibility of floating structures. Hopefully, we will see many more of these mobile aquatic parks popping up around seaside cities and lakes all over the world.
As it turns out, shipping containers are a great recycling material for new architectural projects. They are cheap and abundant, and provide just enough space that they can be easily outfitted into new roles.
A new French barge design will use shipping containers to create an onboard swimming pool for locals. Designed by 2:pm Architectures and Dauphins Architecture, the barge will drift through the Garonne river. Rather than pumping water from the city of Bordeaux to fill its pools, the mobile water park will filter river water to provide a cheap and eco-friendly source of cool water.
The shipping containers themselves – eight in all – will each provide a sort of room for the facilities on the barge, such as a check in room, a restroom, a changing room, and a place to grab some grub.
Despite the massive size of the shipping containers, the barge will have enough empty deck space to allow visitors to throw out a towel and work on their tan. And when the barge is docked, the detachable, modular shipping containers can be removed and stacked off of the barge to provide a bit more space.
Once the barge starts cruising along the Garonne, however, it will offer a much different experience. It will act a bit like a miniature cruise, allowing people to lounge, swim, and soak up the sun as they slowly drift past the city of Bordeaux.
This barge is an excellent example of green thinking. It can provide a fun public space at a low cost, all while reusing a lot of the city’s old materials. And best of all, the filtration system allows the barge to remain relatively sustainable and cost-efficient. Hopefully, this barge will introduce more people to the concept of greener living by showing them the benefits of eco-conscious design.