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+ POOL is an initiative to build a water-filtering, floating pool for New York City.
Like a giant strainer dropped into the river, + POOL will filter bacteria and contaminants through the concentric layers of filtration materials that make up the walls of the pool itself – leaving only clean, safe, and swimmable river water. The Olympic-size pool will filter over 600,000 gallons of river water daily, making a measurable contribution towards cleaning the city’s waterways.
Everybody! We want + POOL to be enjoyed by Everybody, at all times, which is why it is designed as four pools in one: Children’s Pool, Sports Pool, Lap Pool and Lounge Pool.
To get into the river. The project was launched with the ambition to improve the use of the city’s natural resources by providing a clean and safe way for the public to swim in New York’s waters.
Yes, of course, but none that filter the water in which they float! Floating pools paralleled the development of New York City dating back to the early 19th Century when the city’s elite used floating spas located just off the Battery in lower Manhattan. After the Civil War, the huge influx of immigrants required bathhouses in the Hudson and East Rivers as many were without proper bathing facilities in their homes. By the early 1900s, water quality concerns eventually closed the last of the river pools, relocating aquatic leisure activities to more sanitized and inland sites. In 1972, the Clean Water Act set forth the goal of making every body of water in the country safe for recreation. In 2007, the Floating Pool Lady – a reclaimed barge now located in the Bronx – brought back the first semblance of New York’s floating pool culture in almost a century. Some of our favorite floating pools across the world are Badeschiff in Berlin, Josephine Baker in Paris, and Islands Brygge in Copenhagen.
+ POOL aims to be in the water as soon as possible. Once the city offers us a site to install, we’ll make our final, site-specific detailed design documents and begin the long and arduous process of getting the required city and state approvals. This is a large, ground-up endeavor, but we have the massive amount of public support that can only mean we’re heading in the right direction. Tell NYC you want to swim in the river today!
We’ve been busy! Meetings, tests, more meetings, presentations, design, and even more meetings. We’ve worked with engineers at Arup to study the structure, mechanics, and filtration systems, and ecological consultants at One Nature to maximize + POOL’s benefit to the environment. We’ve spent six weeks on a pier in the East River testing different filtration materials and learned about enterococci and fecal coliform from professors at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. We’ve worked with innovation designers at IDEO and we began working with naval architects Persak & Wurmfeld to design + POOL’s floating structure. We tested the full filtration system in the harbor for five months and proved our filtration concept works. And we gained the support of city and state agencies, open-water swimmers, waterfront advocacy organizations, and over 5,000 incredible supporters who pledged money through Kickstarter, events, and our nonprofit.
There are a few options that we’re exploring, from catchment cartridges that can be removed and taken to waste treatment; to employing floating wetlands and oyster reefs to aid in waste removal. Dong likes the idea of displaying some of the gunk for educational purposes, but he’s pretty much the only one. Because that would be gross.
It will be tethered to the river bed which will allow it to raise and lower with the tides and waves. It will also make it easier to move around if needed. The slowest water taxi in the world, anyone?
Since the pool will be floating and tethered to the river bed, it can be designed to ride the waves and surges of a storm, similar to a boat. And like any good project, it will be assessed and engineered for worst case scenarios. A main challenge is to prevent other debris from washing into and colliding with the pool during a massive storm. There are protective measures we can employ, or perhaps we can just redesign the anchors and footings for every structure in the river!