Urban Beach by O + A


Amsterdam architects O+A have designed a conceptual floating swimming platform for the river IJ in Amsterdam.

Called Urban Beach, the design comprises a platform sloping into the water with an elevated strip wrapped around it to form a viewing deck.

The information below is from the architects:

Besides acquiring projects through traditional means, O+A is attempting to unfurl several initiatives of its own. One of these projects is the floating urban beach in Amsterdam’s IJ river.

O+A sees the city as a patchwork of meanings. On every corner of every street there is something which has a special value for one or more persons, for one or more reasons. The history, the programme, the users, the events and of course the architecture together play a role in the realisation of this patchwork.

One of the most important issues in developing real estate is the marketing aspect. Developers spend enormous amounts of energy and money in marketing, in an attempt to create meaning for something which does not yet exist. Using billboards, websites and folders, images are portrayed with a predetermined image of happiness for a predetermined target audience. Through initiating the floating swimming pool in the IJ, O+A is attempting to create something which will allow potential users to form their own image of a site, in a much more natural way. By combining public programme with a future building site, city dwellers are enabled to familiarise themselves with a site whilst being entertained. Through a relatively mild investment, a developer is able to capitalise on a holding while making a significant addition to the amenities of Amsterdam.

The floating swimming pool is so very interesting because it touches upon so many aspects of the city. The municipality of Amsterdam has initiated a major offensive concerning sustainability and it has great ambitions therein. One of the milestones in this endeavour is Amsterdam Waterstad (water-city) 2010. Several initiatives are being undertaken which should put Amsterdam on the map in terms of sustainability and water. In that light, the image of people swimming in the IJ would be a testament to the water quality in this city. Parallel to this discussion, national politicians are calling for more urban swimming locations. In short, the floating swimming pool has the potential to charm citizens, enterprises and governments alike.

For the design, a swimming pool has been taken with enough surrounding public space. This basic typology has been folded to make the object more flexible. This way an open-air movie theatre can also be held in the summer and a wellness centre can also be held in the winter. The inclined surface presents itself as an urban beach which does no more than provide access to the IJ. The clear form in which all of this happens, works as a framework in which the variation of programme and users is encouraged.

At the moment O+A is pursuing a financial, political and governmental platform for the project.

Posted on Thursday April 1st 2010 at 7:04 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • leo


  • xico

    simple and nice… i hope it gets build

  • bored

    this is an average school project at best. only interesting if it were to actually get built and we could see if people use it.

  • RJC

    totally dont get it…

  • youri


    really….as if your user name isn’t snobbish enough…don’t batter the interesting attempts of others. Nice work O+A!!!

  • AngerOfTheNorth

    I see no reason why people wouldn’t use it – the local people swim in the IJ quite regularly during summer, particularly from the Blijburg beach (on the IJburg islands) and the Oosterdokeilands.

    Quite a cool idea I reckon.

  • julien

    Nice Idea… But would anyone really consider swiming in a river in the middle of a city… There is probably far to much pollution to do so!
    Once I’ve said this, I have never been to Amsterdam so I might be wrong.
    I anyway like the design: simple and efficient.

  • it remembers me a lot, the swimming pool from Berlin (a project by Feranando Menis, Felipe Artengo and Pastrana Rodriguez with Gil Wilk and Susanne Lorenz) and the sauna above (by Wilk-Salinas) , actually the image of the cover-worm in one of the renders, is alike the sauna in Berlin (river Spree, Treptow area).

  • luna

    i am wondering how the structure will work.

  • klejdi eski

    Super !

  • Somehow, some of these pictures remind me M. C. Escher!

    Picture / Gallery: Back in Holland 1941 – 1954
    (Relativity 1953 Lithograph)


    François Beydoun

  • beautiful idea

  • lior

    to julien

    i went to amsterdam couple of years ago at summer time and people did jump into the river and looked like a lot of fun. visit to amsterdam is a must. propably the most open minded people i have ever met!

    btw, design / fun. i think it fit perfectly to the spirit of this city

  • Yes, I speak on behalf of all Amsterdam people; WE WANT IT!

  • PS: Now please, so we can swim there this summer.

    • Poppy

      Well, summer of 2015 perhaps? Keep hope alive!