#24 - Gone Blue

NeoCon: + POOL Project

+Pool by New York-studio Family

Architect Oana Stanescu presented the + POOL project at NeoCon design fair in Chicago this June. In partnership with PlayLab, New York-based design firm Family aims to complete the world’s first floating, river-filtering swimming pool in the next few years. Here’s the full story pulled from Stanescu’s presentation and an interview with Stanescu and partner Dong-Ping Wong for ArchiExpo.


It’s 2006 in New York City, and Joshua Prince-Ramus rebrands the American affiliate of Rem Koolhaas & co.’s OMA into the internationally acclaimed architecture and design firm REX. That same year, three designers working at REX meet: Oana Stanescu, from Romania, Dong-Ping Wong, from California, and Jeffrey Franklin from West Virginia.

One hot summer day, they cool down with a beer and think, “Wouldn’t it be great to swim in the river?” The idea for + POOL is born.

NeoCon +Pool arup familynewyork archiexpo

Courtesy of New York-studio Family

They consider the structure and its form. If they create it in a plus (+) shape, they could combine four pools in one: a lap pool, a sports pool, a lounge pool and a kids pool. This pool, they think, could respond to the need of cities like New York City, whose rivers have been polluted for over a century.

Imagine a 14,000-square-foot pool that filters 600,000 gallons of river water every day,” says Stanescu.

They chalk it up to being young and silly. “Being young, you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into,” Stanescu says.

NeoCon +Pool arup familynewyork archiexpo

Courtesy of New York-studio Family

It’s 2009. They launch design firm Family and, among various projects, they get to designing the + POOL.

June 2010, they ask PlayLab , design studio co-founded by Jefferey Franklin with Archi Lee Coates, to present + POOL with a website. PlayLab co-founds the initiative and directs all branding, creative direction and communication strategy for the project.

“People were so supportive and loved the idea,” Stanescu says. “Once you get that drive and you feel people are excited about it, it becomes a responsibility.”

This enthusiasm is not lost on leading engineering firm Arup, who quickly gets involved. Arup conducts a preliminary engineering feasibility report, to assess the water quality, filtration, structural, mechanical and energy systems of + POOL.

In pursuit of filth-free water, Arup’s engineer Craig Covil leads Family’s team during the testing process. Working with a team of architects, engineers and scientists, + POOL founders create a three-layer filter using membrane-like geotextile that will be built into the pool walls and rid the river from all bacteria and odor.

April 2014, they launch Float Lab to test the solution in real-river conditions. The Float Lab captures a wide range of data and helps the team understand how the filtration behaves during all seasons. A patent for the filter is pending. Stay tuned for further details.

NeoCon +Pool arup familynewyork archiexpo

Courtesy of New York-studio Family

In line with the firm’s name, the duo opens interaction with the public through crowd-funding. Sponsors can buy Corian bricks and have their names or other text engraved onto the brick to be used for the +Pool deck. The Dupont Corian bricks for the pool deck will be laser cut by Big Secret in Richmond, Virgina.

The design allows the pool to become one with its surrounding water with the use of pretension cables. It will rise and fall with the tides; however, the motion dissipated through the pool’s wide, flat surface will make the experience of standing on deck feel motionless. The plus shape mirrors Manhattan blocks

It’s 2016, and only a few years to go before the + POOL becomes reality.


About the Author

Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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