Dezeen Magazine

View of the plus-shaped pool in the East River

Floating +Pool swimming pool proposed for New York's East River gets green light

A floating swimming pool for New York's East River designed by PlayLab has been approved by city planners ten years after it was first proposed.

Non-profit organiser +Pool has received an official "confirmation to proceed with due diligence" from New York's Economic Development Corporation and can go ahead with logistics planning.

A provisional site for the project, which will clean the river water without chemicals and will include a lap pool and an area for children, has been assigned to the north of Manhattan Bridge. Completion is expected within two years.

+Pool in the East River
PlayLab developed the concept for the floating pool over ten years ago

The open-air saltwater pool, called +Pool because it would be shaped like a plus sign, was designed by Los Angeles studio PlayLab over a decade ago. Design collaborator Family has since dissolved.

The +Pool organisation was co-founded by Playlab's Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeff Franklin with Family's Dong-Ping Wong. The non-profit has spent 10 years developing the technology and raising funds to test prototypes for the pool.

The pool would be shaped like a plus
The saltwater pool will filter the river water without chemicals

Plans had stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic until the start of May when the +Pool team got the go-ahead.

The +Pool team claims the floating pool could filter over 600,000 gallons of river water per day, creating a safe place for people to swim while cleaning the East River.

Its engineers have used software developed by the US's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to model a membrane filtration system.

Renders of New York saltwater pool
The plus-sign-shaped pool will feature swimming lanes and an area for children

Barriers around the floating pool would need to filter the water of the East River, a saltwater tidal estuary that divides Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Water quality has improved since the US passed the Clean Water Act in 1972. But tens of billions of gallons of stormwater contaminated with sewage still flows into the East River via the old combined sewer overflow (CSO) system each year.

In 2019 PlayLab floated a plus-shaped LED installation in the East River that changed colour depending on whether the water was safe enough to swim in.

More concepts for floating pools include a starfish-shaped pool designed by White Arkitekter for Bergen and a sea pool in Finland by Office for Peripheral Architecture.

Images are courtesy of +Pool.