PARTIES MUST POOL THE BLAME FOR BERNERS CLOSURE
Hodder Associates should not take the blame for the failure of its Berners Pool (AJ 08.03.07). If the business model prepared by the operating trust was misguided from the outset, it is unlikely that the pool would have survived, regardless of who designed it.
Hodder Associates' claims of poor maintenance leading to the £900,000 repair bill may well be justified. Having visited the pool with my family prior to its closure, maintenance was obviously an issue. One of the boilers was not working, but they still took our money in the depths of winter. The faulty glass sliding door reported in your article meant that to access the family changing rooms we had to pass through the 'clean' area of the pool. To say it was filthy is a gross understatement. If, like us, other visitors were confronted with this level of filth and lack of basic maintenance, there is no wonder the clientele steadily demised.
I suspect that these issues lie, to some degree, with all parties involved in the design, construction and general operation.
However, we need to find a way of developing the pool and site and moving away from the ridiculous suggestion of demolishing the building. Although Berners Pool has its problems, we need to find a way of preserving this bold architectural statement for future generations. If we fail to do so, we will be in danger of looking back at our architectural heritage in Cumbria and wondering if anything had been built since the early 20th century.
Mark Deverill, partner, HM Architecture