Urban Plunge – open swimming in the heart of the city

The Exhibition ‘Urban Plunge’ in the Roca London Gallery explores the growing urban swimming movement through a series of proposals for river and harbour baths in London, New York and Copenhagen that envisage imaginative new ways to enjoy urban water environments.
The exhibition ‘Urban Plunge’, curated by Jane Withers for Wonderwater, showcases five architectural interventions for swimming in clean natural waters in the heart of our cities: + Pool, New York (Playlab & Family NYC); Thames Baths Project, London (Studio Octopi); Copenhagen Harbour Baths, (JDS Architects); King’s Cross Pond Club, London (Ooze & Marjetica Potrč) and House of Water, Copenhagen (Tredje Natur). Beyond the thrill and rejuvenating effects of city swimming, this swell of river baths challenges us to rethink how we use and abuse our urban waterways.

While Thames Baths proposals for natural bathing pools at Blackfriars and Temple Stairs recall the wilderness of marshes and reed beds of pre-industrial London, + POOL’s crisp design mimic’s Manhattan’s grid, a giant chunk of the city floating in the East River. Conceived as an art installation, Of Soil and Water: King’s Cross Pond Club explores how we can re-introduce natural cycles into the urban environment. It promises the tantalising vision of urbanites shedding their city armour to bathe in a man-made natural pond in the middle of central London’s largest construction site.

In contrast Copenhagen’s harbour baths are sculptural wooden promenades that create new links between land and water, social in-between spaces much like beaches. Since the first Copenhagen Harbour Bath in 2002, a further four have opened and the phenomenally successful programme has been emulated in other Danish cities, paving the way for more ambitious thinking on urban waters.


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