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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.