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First images emerge of 'swimming pool in sky' at Nine Elms


The first visuals have emerged of long-awaited plans to build an ‘entirely transparent’ swimming pool between the roofs of two housing blocks in London’s Nine Elms

The 25m-long Sky Pool will link a pair of residential buildings designed by Arup Associates next to Kieran Timberlake’s new US Embassy within the emerging Embassy Gardens neighbourhood south of The Thames.

Rumours about the proposed ‘structure free’ outdoor pool, which will allow residents to swim between the blocks 10 storeys above the ground, emerged early last year.

According to project backer Eco World Ballymore, the experience of swimming in the 5m wide and 3m deep tank will be ‘more akin to an aquarium than a pool…with glass that is 20cm thick’.

The structure has been designed with engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan and aquarium designers Reynolds.

Sean Mulryan, chairman and chief executive of Ballymore Group, said the pool would help create ‘an inspiring environment and give a unique character to the development’.

The buildings linked by the pool are part of the second phase of the wider 2,000-home development - designed in collaboration with AHMM and FCBS - which will be released to market in September.


Previous story (AJ 18.02.2011)

London’s new Embassy Quarter approved

Wandsworth Council has approved plans for a 2000-home, mixed-use scheme around Kieran Timberlake’s proposed new US Embassy scheme in Nine Elms, London

Drawn up by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and FLACQ, the Embassy Gardens project for developer Ballymore includes a 100-bedroom hotel, nearly 46,500m² of office space and more than 12,000m² of retail, bar and restaurant facilities.

The scheme, which DC CABE’s design review panel branded ‘overly complex’ last year (see below), will also create more than 2.4 ha of public space including a section of the Nine Elms linear park which will run the full length of the district.

The masterplan for the former industrial land was designed by Terry Farrell and consists of nine building plots, with individual buildings rising up to 23 storeys in height.

As part of the Section 106 agreements, Ballymore has agreed to pay between £52.5million and £55.7million towards improving local transport and social infrastructure. According to the council ‘the exact figure will depend on the timing of the payments and final form of the development’.

The majority of the payments will go towards the Northern Line Extension which will connect Nine Elms to the tube network.

The developer will also provide £200,000 towards an extension of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, £300,000 towards a local employment initiative and six car club parking spaces.

Wandsworth Council’s planning chairman Nick Cuff said: ‘The development comes with another major contribution to the Northern Line Extension which will cut journey times to the financial district to below 15 minutes.

‘Through the scheme’s legal agreement we have ensured that Wandsworth residents directly benefit from the rising property values in Nine Elms. If prices increase, Ballymore will hand over up to £40million of the super profit which will be used to provide more affordable homes for local people.’

Previous story (AJ 13.07.11)

Embassy Quarter elevations need ‘refinement,’ says CABE

The elevations of buildings planned for developments surrounding Kieran Timberlake’s US Embassy scheme in Nine Elms, London need finessing, CABE has warned

In one of the first design reviews published since CABE and the Design Council merged, the government design watchdog has raised concerns over the proposed appearance of the six hectare Embassy Quarter mixed-use project and called for amendments to the scheme.

The scheme was submitted for planning in May and was masterplanned by Terry Farrell + Partners with detailed design by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Feilden Clegg Bradley and FLACQ.

The report dated 7 July said: ‘While we find the materials proposed appropriate, the façades occasionally appear overly complex and their articulation detracts from the strength of the form and composition of the buildings.

‘We suggest simplifying the elevations and to concentrate on a smaller number of highly accomplished details to give the buildings a sense of substance and real depth.’

The project for developer Ballymore will encircle the two hectare site of Kieran Timberlake’s proposed future US Embassy.

The CABE design review also emphasised the ‘crucial’ importance of a linear park which is proposed to run through the site and called on local authority Wandsworth Council to guarantee the quality of green space by requiring a detailed planning application for it.

The report also urged the architects to make the most of the scheme’s ‘proximity’ of the River Thames and to ensure the project properly addresses the Nine Elms lane thoroughfare. ‘The proposal seems to turn its back to the road and to concentrate on the linear park,’ it said.

CABE’s design review nevertheless commended the ‘intense collaboration’ between the architects and clients, adding: ‘The novelty of the proposed urban quarter in terms of density, scale and height makes this scheme particularly interesting and we suggest recording the project in detail and to publish the findings to allow future development of the kind to learn from the Nine Elms projects.’

The project is in the middle of the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea opportunity area which is earmarked for hosting 16,000 new homes and up to 25,000 new jobs by the London Mayor.

Divided into nine construction plots, the development will create 2,000 homes on the former industrial site, along with a 100-bedroom hotel, close to 46,500m² of office space and more than 12,000m² of retail, bar and restaurant facilities. The landscape architect is Camlins.

Neighbouring schemes include Foster + Partners and Neil Tomlinson Architects New Covent Garden Market redevelopment and the Rafael Vinoly-masterplanned Battersea Power Station restoration.



Readers' comments (3)

  • That apartment building will have to have a high proportion of terror seekers living in it, otherwise it'll just be sat there, with worried people avoiding walking under it.

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  • The image suggests a pool rather more than 5m wide, but even so I'd like to know just how such a large glass floor is fabricated, and presumably jointed.

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  • Makes me think of some of the settings as described in JG Ballard's novel High Rise... when the revolt occurs that will be the first thing to be destroyed!

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