Cool idea from another city: New York’s water filtering ‘Plus Pool’

·3-min read
 (Image courtesy of Plus Pool )
(Image courtesy of Plus Pool )

As anyone familiar with the ‘I am Annabelle Bronstein’ episode of Sex and The City knows, nabbing yourself a poolside spot in New York during high summer requires grit, determination and (if you’re Samantha Jones) a bad fake British accent.

So news of a brand new pool being approved for the city has been welcomed with open arms by sweltering New Yorkers. What’s more, the oasis in question will be more than just a summer hotspot, but an ambitious, water-filtering feat of engineering floating on the Hudson River.

We talked to its designer Dong-Ping Wong about why this ambitious pool has been ten years in the making - and whether we could ever see one in London.

What is it?

In the simplest terms, it’s an Olympic-sized pool shaped like a giant plus sign which will float on the waters of the Hudson River. The ‘Plus Pool’ was originally the brainchild of design firm PlayLab in collaboration with former New York architecture firm Family.

Ideas for the pool were first batted around back in 2010, but after years of refinement, consultation with engineers and backing from high profile celebrities including Kanye West, it was finally greenlit this spring by the city’s Economic Development Corporation. The politics of getting the plans passed by the powers that be have been the biggest challenge, says Plus Pool co-founder Dong-Ping Wong: “Getting agencies to hear us out, let alone work with us [has been tough]” he says, and there’s still “a lot of work” in getting it completed.

Why is it so cool?

There will be no chlorine or chemicals used in the pool - just river water. Acting as a giant filter, the pool will pull in the polluted waters of the Hudson and remove bacteria, contaminants and other undesirable deposits until it’s clear and safe to swim in. “When I had the idea for the pool the filtration was just an amateur concept. Now it’s a patented piece of engineering” says Wong.

Once its up and running the pool filters should be able to clean more than 600,000 gallons of water a day. ‘Instead of trying to clean the entire river, what if you started by cleaning it piece by piece?’ a mission statement on the +Pool website asks, ‘And what if you could change how New Yorkers see their rivers, just by giving them a chance to swim in it?’

The filtration system itself has been rigorously tested, with input from naval engineers and professors at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Who will get to use it?

Much like the High Line, the Plus Pool will be a public project open to everyone (this is no floating Soho House), with a non-profit Friends of +Pool attached to ensure all New Yorkers get the chance to have a dip.

The design’s four segments will be divided into a Kid’s pool, Sports pool, Lap pool and Lounge pool and its 9,000 square foot capacity means it could eventually host around 300 people at a time and 1,800 visitors over a day.

When will it happen?

Certainly not this summer. With plenty more hoops to jump through, Wong hopes it should be up and running in four years - so New Yorkers still have a wait on their hands.

Will we ever seen one on the Thames?

Wong hopes so: “The idea is that the technology can be used in all sorts and shapes of pools and that the New York one is really just the prototype,” he says, “the River Thames would be rad.”

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