The owners of a glass-domed, Grade II-listed swimming pool in north London by post-war architect James Gowan have applied to demolish and relocate the structure, raising concerns over its future
The ‘glass UFO’ structure is on land originally attached to the nearby Schreiber House in West Hampstead, a four-storey property built for furniture manufacturer Chaim Schreiber in the 1960s.
But today, the pool is located within the grounds of a neighbouring property on Templewood Avenue, and the new owners want to demolish the pool and reinstate it in a different part of their garden.
According to a planning application submitted to Camden Council, is no longer usable as the listed pool structure leaks when full of water.
’It has been identified that the swimming pool as existing is not a functional building for its purpose and has not been used as such for a number of years due to extensive leaks from the main drain both to the main house ground floor and to the garden,’ a planning document read.
In a letter to the council, the Twentieth Century Society said the division of the Schreiber House plot had ‘greatly damaged’ the historic and architectural significance of the pool structure with the relationship to Gowan’s building almost ‘entirely lost’.
However the heritage group said it was unable to support the application for relocating the pool as it was ‘not confident that deconstruction and relocation can be carried out without damage to the original fabric’.
Gowan is best known for his collaboration with James Stirling on the University of Leicester’s Engineering Building.
The Schreiber House was Gowan’s first commission after he and Stirling ended their partnership and is considered one of the most significant townhouses of the post-war period.
In 1969, the AJ’s sister title, the Architectural Review, described Gowan’s pool as a drum of reinforced concrete, half sunk into the ground and enveloped by a grass bank.
’Like a glass UFO alongside Hampstead Heath, Gowan’s swimming pool is both graceful and technically striking’, it read.