The Pool the People Built

by Guest Writer

During the dog days of summer it becomes a real challenge to find ways to cool off – especially in the Big Apple. Manhattan is a 13-mile long island sandwiched between 2 rivers, it should be one of the easiest places to take a dip and cool off. Unfortunately, that is not the case due the 27 billion gallons of polluted storm water that find their way into these once fresh water sources each year. With this major dilemma and 1.6 million sweating people, the innovative folks at Family and Playlab came up with an idea to turn New York’s dirty water into a functional resource. Their idea is a filtering and floating structure that they call, + Pool.

After proposing the idea in 2011 among his architectural firm, Arche Lee Coates and his team at Family partnered with design agency Play Lab hit the drawing board and started creating designs. The idea behind the pool is to create a sustainable, eco-friendly and safe recreational place for summer fun. The firm describes the filtration idea behind the pool as a “Brita Filter”. The water from the East River will go through three different filters, one that takes out the large sediments and two that help to disinfect the water. All of the filtration will be chemical free and leave the East River in a cleaner state than before.

In addition to the recreational and sustainable benefits of the + Pool design, there is one more angle that makes this project very interesting, it was brought to life through “crowd funding”. The +Pool team used Kickstarter, an online fundraising site to collect investments. They have offered those who donate to opportunity to take the first “dip” in the pool and have given them the option to buy a tile with an engraving of their choice. These tiles will then be displayed on the deck of the pool on the final structure. The funding process has happened in 3 stages, having the successfully completed the second stage as of mid-July. Construction for the final + Pool is scheduled for 2016 and will be open to the public for the summer during that year. It will be a useful asset to New Yorkers and a mile stone for urban planning around the world.

This project is an interesting one to follow, even if you’re not a New Yorker, because of the global community’s common interest to create a sustainable and safe recreational space. Communities around the world are collaborating to make the world more sustainable in their own way. Are there any sustainable projects in your area that have been built by communities?

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