The enduring vision to construct an “iconic” floating pool in the shape of a plus symbol is one step closer to reality. Proposed for East River in New York, the Plus Pool project (stylised + POOL) has been given a “confirmation to proceed with due diligence” notice by the city and its Economic Development Corporation. The non-profit organisation behind the project, Friends of + POOL, has been seeking access to an area of the river to anchor the swimming pool for over a decade. This recent announcement provides pool organisers permission to proceed with next steps in the waters adjacent to the Two Bridges neighbourhood of Lower Manhattan, north of Manhattan Bridge.
Employing patented technology, the plus-shaped pool is designed to filter the very water that it floats in – more than 1,000,000 gallons per day – making it possible for up to 50,000 New Yorkers to swim in clean river water each year. Something that hasn’t been possible since the 1930s. “Plus Pool strives to reclaim the river as a recreational resource for the city, while educating the public about issues affecting water quality,” says a statement from the + POOL team.
Big plus: The floating + POOL in New York
“New York is an incredible place to live. You can do almost anything here. Anything, except swim in the river,” the team continues. “[Plus Pool] started with a simple idea: instead of trying to clean the entire river, what if you started by cleaning it piece by piece? And what if you could change how New Yorkers see their rivers, just by giving them a chance to swim in it?”
Like a giant strainer dipped into New York’s East River, + POOL promises to filter the polluted river water within its walls, removing bacteria, contaminants and undesirable odours. “The team has engineered a filtration system that brings raw river water to an acceptable microbiological standard for swimming, and patented the design,” explains the + POOL team. By leaving only safe, swimmable water that compiles with local and state standards, the project team believes this will change the public’s attitude towards the river. “A public demonstration of the full system at the site will provide the team with data to take to permit authorities and greenlight the project.”
Following in the footsteps of public-private projects such as The High Line, the not-for-profit + POOL initiative was co-founded more than ten years ago by two design studios, Family and PlayLab. While Family has since dissolved, PlayLab continues to spearhead the project, fuelled by the belief that + POOL will become a welcome place for everyone to enjoy; a literal ‘big plus’ for residents and visitors of New York City.
“Our non-profit [organisation] supports the development and eventual operation and maintenance of Plus Pool,” says the team, noting that the non-profit organisation will also support the “preservation, restoration and conservation of natural bodies of water, promote water stewardship, and educate the public about the importance of clean water”.
Illustrations of the pool show that its plus-symbol design would facilitate four swimming areas in one, including a kids’ pool, sports pool, lap pool and lounge pool. Each could be used independently to cater to all types of swimmers, combined to form an Olympic-length lap pool, or opened completely into a 835-square-metre leisure pool. But no matter which way the facility is ultimately enjoyed, the + POOL project team say it’s bound to make a splash: “Its universally recognisable shape and unusual offshore siting immediately positions Plus Pool as an iconic piece of public infrastructure.”
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Its universally recognisable shape and unusual offshore siting immediately positions + POOL as an iconic piece of public infrastructure.