King's Cross Natural Swimming Pool with a lone swimmer
King's Cross Natural Swimming Pool with a lone swimmer

Kings Cross Pond Club – Kingcombe Aquacare builds UK’s first public natural swimming pond at King’s Cross

Everyone at Kingcombe Aquacare is delighted to have been involved with the creation of the UK’s first public natural swimming pond, at King’s Cross in London, which is due to open soon as a piece of Land Art. The project has been getting a lot of media attention.

The natural swimming pond at King’s Cross has been engineered and built by Kingcombe Aquacare Ltd, as a UK partner of Europe’s leading natural pool designers BIOTOP. The new swimming facility is officially known as ‘Kings Cross Pond Club’.

It’s been exciting to witness people’s reactions to the UK’s first public natural swimming pond, in the flesh and across the media.

King's Cross natural swimming pond under construction by Kingcombe Aquacare Ltd
King’s Cross Pond Club natural swimming pond under construction

Kingcombe’s founder and chairman John Colton and technical sales manager Ben Garner both spoke at a press preview day in May. The weather on the day before was beautifully warm and sunny. Sadly for members of the media, it was a bit chillier on the day they came to swim in the pond – but their enthusiam for the project was stilll a pleasure to behold.

Here’s a quick selection of pieces that have appeared so far.

Jenny Landreth in The Guardian:

“The sky was grey and the wind was up, but yesterday’s sun had kindly warmed the water to a seasonal 15 degrees. I was the first in, so had a few seconds alone to go from one end to the other, bumping up to the submerged barrier separating the planted area. The pool bottom is the colour of white sand, which reflects light upwards. The water feels soft, velvet, chilly. I looked up at the towers round me, their dark windows giving nothing away; I briefly imagine watching it all from up there. The pool’s elevation helps you place yourself on the map – ‘I am here. I AM HERE,’ I want to yell, because cold water makes me feel like that. Other people join me; we swim around each other, excited about being in at last, the thrill of doing something slightly vulnerable and exposing. “It’s so lovely!” they exclaim, all smiles.”

Will Noble for The Londonist:

“This could almost be God’s own handiwork”

Adrian Bridge for The Daily Telegraph:

“I’d had a wonderful swim and seen London from an entirely new perspective. I also came out glowing thanks to the silky smooth, clear quality of the water.

“If not the hottest, the new pond at King’s Cross is without doubt London’s coolest new attraction.”

Alexi Duggins, Time Out London:

“Surprisingly nice”

What a view! King's Cross natural swimming pond in London
What a view! King’s Cross Pond Club – a Kingcombe Aquacare natural swimming pond in London

Emily Gosling, It’s Nice That:

“The pond is a truly fantastic idea, one that myself and most people I know thought was nothing but a pipe dream (one filtered naturally, with plants of course), one of those daft things you read about in a Time Out list, share on Facebook with the women you swim with in Hampstead sometimes and swiftly forget about. But it’s not: it’s here, it’s real, and it’s joyful. I’ll be back, with the aforementioned women, and I can’t bloody wait.”

Thanks to everyone who has been commenting on the pond. We look forward to many more people experiencing the joys of a natural swimming pond over the next couple of years.

Thanks also to all those mentioned below. We’d never have got the chance to work on such a fantastic project if it hadn’t been for the vision and determination of the architects, artists, curators, project managers and developers by whom we had the honour to be chosen to build the swimming pond.

The UK’s first ever man-made freshwater public bathing pond will shortly open as a piece of Land Art, within a working construction site area of London’s King’s Cross. The natural, chemical-free pond is the creation of Ooze Architects (Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg) and artist Marjetica Potrc.

Entitled ‘Of Soil and Water’: the King’s Cross Pond Club, the piece encourages visitors to enter the water and participate in the installation as a piece of experiential art. The pond, measuring approximately 10m wide by 40m long, will be purified through a natural closed-loop process, using wetland and submerged water plants to filter and sustain clean and clear water. The pond, which is due to be in place for up to 2 years, is surrounded by both hard and soft landscaping, including pioneer plants, wild flowers grasses, and bushes so that the environment evolves as the seasons change.

Of Soil and Water’ is an integral part of the King’s Cross Arts Programme, a respected and rich range of public art. The first three year curated programme, RELAY, was set up by the curators Michael Pinsky and Stephanie Delcroix in 2010. Of Soil and Water; The Kings Cross Pond Club is the fourth and final project of the RELAY programme and follows Jacques Rival’s IFO, Richard Wentworth and Gruppe’s Black Maria and Felice Varini’s Across the Buildings. Curators for the next three-year programme will be announced shortly.

Architects Ooze and artist Potrc have been collaborating on projects since 2008. Ooze’s projects are of a participative and multidisciplinary nature. “The project is a small-scale enclaved environment, a living laboratory to test balance and to question a self-sustaining system including one natural cycle – water, land and the human body,” said Eva Pfannes. “The aim is communication with visitors, describing the balance of man with nature, and the balance of living in a sustainable city,” she continued.

“We wanted to explore the concept of water, something which is often hidden away in urban landscapes. In this particular project, the juxtaposition of something so natural in an urban environment was a very important idea for us. It is meant to look unpolished and to evolve as the seasons change. The number of people bathing per day is restricted according to a level that the plants in the pond can manage on a daily basis. The act of swimming is a primordial act; the body becomes more sensitive and aware of nature in water,” added Sylvain Hartenberg.

The artist Marjetica Potrc said: “We have to rethink how we live with the city and with nature. Here, we are collaborating with nature, and the artwork encourages the viewer to participate in that experience. Water is a source of life but it is also a metaphor for regeneration. We want to understand people’s influence upon nature but also our balance with nature.”

Ian Freshwater, asset manager at King’s Cross Central Ltd Partnership, who has been managing the project, said: “King’s Cross is a dynamic estate, and with this project, we celebrate both the area’s heritage, past and present and new creative industries. Since 2011, a series of contemporary art projects have appeared around the site, enlivening the public spaces, and OSOW: TKCPC continues and builds on that approach. We also want to draw attention to new green spaces, biodiversity and to our ethos of sustainable development; Ooze specialises in examining the changing nature of development: from a natural landscape to a built one.”

Curators Michael Pinsky and Stephanie Delcroix said: “We wanted artists to respond to the landscape and fabric of King’s Cross. Marjetica is known for her collaborative work and the involvement of the local community in her art. Inspired by the transformation of the area, RELAY draws on King’s Cross long-standing role as a transport interchange, the progressive opening of the site’s spaces, and the human chain involved in carrying out collective efforts. As such, it is fitting that the piece is both temporary and organic in its design.”

Of Soil and Water: the King’s Cross Pond Club is engineered and built by Europe’s leading natural pool designers BIOTOP and its UK partner, Kingcombe Aquacare Ltd. Read our Kings Cross Pond Club case study 

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