An outdoor public bath has opened at King's Cross, becoming the first man-made freshwater bathing pond in the UK. Of Soil and Water — aka King's Cross Pond Club — is billed as a piece of 'experiential art', and designed to evolve with the seasons, surrounded by the likes of pioneer plants, wild flowers grasses and bushes.
The installation — which will be in its location midst a construction site behind King's Cross station for up to two years — is part of the King's Cross Arts Programme, and is a collaboration between Ooze Architects and artist Marjetica Potrč. There's no pool filter; instead, water is purified using plants. Say the Ooze architects:
“We wanted to explore the concept of water, something which is often hidden away in urban landscapes. In this particular project, the juxtaposition of something so natural in an urban environment was a very important idea for us.
"The project is a small-scale enclaved environment, a living laboratory... The aim is communication with visitors, describing the balance of man with nature, and the balance of living in a sustainable city.”
Art the pond may be, but how many masterpieces do you know that you can swim in? And though London offers myriad outdoor dips, few allow you to take a soak with a backdrop of construction cranes and the throng of central London. Of Soil and Water really is quite unique.
But don't go cramming yourself into your Speedos just yet. The public launch for the pond isn't for a couple of weeks, plus the number of people who can bathe is commensurate with how many the plants in the water can manage on any given day.
Of Soil and Water is one of a number of touted new al fresco swimming projects in London, others including the Thames Baths, and a resurrected Peckham Lido.
Londonist took a preview dip. Here's our verdict.