Dezeen Magazine

Studio Octopi announces crowdfunding campaign to rebuild lost lido in London's Peckham

The architects behind a campaign to build a floating swimming pool on the River Thames have now revealed plans to resurrect a southeast London lido that was filled in nearly 30 years ago.

London-based Studio Octopi has developed designs to reinstate the Olympic-length outdoor swimming pool in Peckham Rye, which was in use for over 50 years, but eventually closed down in 1987.

A crowdfunding campaign launched this week to raise money for the project, described it as a "a modern mecca for sunbathing, health and wellbeing".

The team are seeking £60,000 – enough to cover the costs of preparing a planning application to submit to Southwark Council.

Unlike the original design, the new lido would use a natural water source – embracing the growing trend for more organic swimming pools, demonstrated by projects like Herzog & de Meuron's bathing lake in Switzerland.

Peckham Lido by Studio Octopi
Studio Octopi plans to create a beach-like space, set among wild flowers and mature trees

"We have aspirations to make it the country's first natural lido, naturally filtered and kept clean through a natural process" Studio Octopi co-founder Chris Romer-Lee told Dezeen, discounting the new freshwater outdoor pool at King's Cross as "an artwork".

To achieve this, the architects plan to explore the possibility of resurfacing the River Peck, one of London's underground rivers.

"We'd love to explore resurfacing that river and using the water from it," explained Romer-Lee. "There's a lot of people who don't even realise that the Peck runs under their public space and houses – what better opportunity to bring it to the surface?"

The campaign is led by local resident Ben Lloyd-Ennals, who started the project with an online petition. After receiving over 3,000 signatures he won the support of politician Harriet Harman, then held a design competition that brought Studio Octopi on board.

Peckham Lido by Studio Octopi
Unlike the original pool, the new lido is designed to use naturally filtered water

The plan is to build the new 50-metre-long lido on exactly the same site as its predecessor, on Peckham Rye Common.

The team plan to embrace this by creating a beach-like space, set among wild flowers and mature trees. It would stand in contrast to London's existing park lidos, which are surrounded by high fences.

"We're trying to make it connect back to the parkland, not to close it up like Brockwell Park or London Fields," said Romer-Lee. "The beauty of these natural pools is that you can run them on a pebble edge, so you do get a beach rather than a concrete edge."

"This is an opportunity, not only for serous swimmers, but for all people who want to hang out by the water or for kids wanting to learn how to swim," he continued.

Peckham Lido by Studio Octopi
The Packham Lido would stand in contrast to London's existing park lidos, which are surrounded by high fences

The designs also include rooftop sunbathing areas, an outdoor cinema, a gym, a yoga studio, and an events room.

"Peckham like the rest of London is changing so quickly right now," added Lloyd-Ennals. "It's essential we harness this great energy and prosperity to keep London fun and liveable, which is what the Peckham Lido is all about."

Studio Octopi is still also progressing plans for Thames Baths, a floating swimming pool in the centre of London. Speaking to Dezeen last year, Romer-Lee claimed the city is experiencing an outdoor swimming revolution.

Natural swimming is also becoming popular in other countries. Since JDS Architects installed recreational bathing facilities along Copenhagen's waterfront in 2002 several more harbour baths have been proposed, including one in Melbourne and one by BIG in Aarhus.