Bathing Pond, King’s Cross Art Installation, London Public Space Project, Urban Landscape Design

Bathing Pond King’s Cross

Public Space Development in London, England, UK – Installation design by Ooze architects + Marjetica Potrč

8 Apr 2015

Bathing Pond in King’s Cross

Design: Ooze architects and Marjetica Potrč

Location: King’s Cross, London, UK

Bathing pond art installation to open at London’s King’s Cross

London’s King’s Cross will soon feature the UK’s first ever public natural swimming pond, as part of an innovative art project. The natural, chemical-free pond is the creation of Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrč and it encourages swimmers and visitors to participate in the installation as a piece of experiential art. Entitled ‘Of Soil and Water’: The King’s Cross Pond Club will exist on the King’s Cross site as both an art installation and a public space on a temporary basis before its location at Lewis Cubitt Park is further opened up for use.

Kings Cross Pond Club

Of Soil and Water: King’s Cross Pond Club is a Bathing Pond, in a natural oblong shape, built two metres above ground level and 10m wide x 40m long. Its central pool is surrounded by both hard and soft landscaping, including pioneer plants, wild flowers grasses, and bushes so that the environment evolves as the seasons change. The swimming pond will be purified through a natural closed-loop process, using wetland and submerged water plants to filter and sustain clean and clear water. As the UK’s first public man-made, naturally purified outdoor bathing pond, Of Soil and Water is engineered and built by Europe’s leading natural pool designers BIOTOP and its UK partner, Kingcombe Aquacare Ltd.

Architects Ooze and artist Potrč have been collaborating on projects since 2008. Ooze’s projects are of a participative and multidisciplinary nature. “The project is an attempt to capture the dynamicity conveyed by the changes within the area, a moment in time where new possibilities and possible futures arise,” said Eva Pfannes. “The project is a small-scale enclaved environment, a living laboratory to test balance and to question a self-sustaining system including one nature cycle – water, land and the human body. Actors (visitors to the project) are part of the process. Visitors enter a living laboratory where they are aware of their relationship with nature, and about consequences of their interaction with nature and take responsibilities, they thus become actors. The aim is communication with visitors, describing the balance of man with nature, and balance of living in a sustainable city,” she continued.

Kings Cross Pond Club

“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. It is meant to look unpolished and to evolve as the seasons change. The number of people bathing per day is restricted to what the plants from the pond can clean per day. This way the human (visitors/actors) is in balance with what nature can absorb and regenerate. The act of swimming is a primordial act, the body becomes more sensitive and aware of nature in water,” added Sylvain Hartenberg.

The artist Marjetica Potrč said of the work “We have to re-think how we live with the city and with nature. Here, we are collaborating with nature and the artwork encourages the viewer to participate in that experience. Water is a source of life but it is also a metaphor for regeneration. We want to understand our influence upon nature but also our balance with nature.”

King’s Cross is the largest mixed use development in single ownership to be developed in central London for over 150 years. The 67-acre site has a rich history and a unique setting. The pond will be a main attraction within the Lewis Cubitt Park area of the development. The aim is to provide visitors and people living in the area with a beautiful and relaxing vantage point from where they can swim and enjoy a piece of nature in an urban location.

Ian Freshwater, asset manager at King’s Cross Central Ltd Partnership, and managing the project said: ‘King’s Cross is a dynamic estate, and with this project, we celebrate both the area’s heritage, past and present and new creative industries. Since 2011, a series of contemporary art projects have appeared around the site, enlivening the public spaces and this project continues and builds on that approach. We also want to draw attention to new green spaces, biodiversity and to our ethos of sustainable development; ooze specialise in examining the changing nature of development from a natural landscape to a built one.’ He added: ‘Although we would expect the pond to be less popular as a bathing facility in autumn and winter, we have taken inspiration from places like the lidos in London, where communities continue to use it all year around.’

‘Of Soil and Water’ is an integral part of the King’s Cross Arts Programme, a respected and rich range of public art in the form of both performing arts and contemporary visual art with the aim of enhancing visitor and resident experience through community engagement. The first three year curated programme, RELAY, was set up by the curators Michael Pinsky and Stephanie Delcroix in 2010. Of Soil and Water; The Kings Cross Pond Club is the fourth and final project of the RELAY programme and follows Jacque Rival’s IFO, Richard Wentworth and Gruppe’s Black Maria and Felice Varini’s Across the Buildings. Curators for the next three year programme will be announced shortly.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of the year, when the pool will be given time to develop naturally, before its scheduled opening to the public as an arts and events space in Spring 2015. Swimmers can expect to enter the pool from 1st April 2015.

Bathing Pond in King’s Cross images / information from Ooze architects

Location: King’s Cross, London, England, UK

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Website: Marjetica Potrč