Swimmers who live in two buildings at the Embassy Gardens development in Battersea, London now have access to a pretty incredible swimming experience. HAL Architects has connected two residential buildings with a completely transparent swimming pool bridge that provides unobstructed views of the ground below. Sky Pool allows residents to swim across 82 feet of acrylic, as long as they are okay with looking down at the 115-foot drop.
The transparent quality of the pool and lack of clear structure is made possible through the use of acrylic panels capable of holding up the water and spanning the gap between the buildings. Hal Currey, founder of HAL, explained the creative material decision is not such an uncommon idea since aquariums are so successful in preserving views of their aquatic life. “If acrylic could hold back sharks,” he asks, “could it be applied to a swimming pool structure ten stories up?” With collaboration from engineers at Eckersley O’Callaghan and fabricators at Reynolds Polymer Technology, the idea was brought successfully to fruition.
Aside from getting over any fear of heights, there is one more barrier for residents hoping to swim in Sky Pool—they can’t be from any of the affordable housing units in the development. This decision from the developers has led to some serious controversy about equitable design. In a piece by The Guardian, some residents share their reactions to the inaccessible Sky Pool that’s visible from their windows. It also mentions the separate entrances often colloquially called “poor doors” and other exclusionary design elements.
Developers EcoWorld Ballymore only provides these spaces for residents in the development paying a higher service charge. Sky Pool is just one of the amenities affordable housing residents do not have access to and are not offered the option to pay for. There are definite issues that have come to light and will hopefully be addressed.