Saturday, August 22, 2015

New London Embassy Inspires "Embassy Gardens" See-Through Sky Pool

Embassy Gardens 'sky pool' is in foreground

Well, well, well, it seems that our New London Embassy (NLE) - and that's the official name and acronym of that signature new embassy construction project - has already inspired an adjacent housing development to be named the "Embassy Gardens."

The New London Embassy is that showpiece of design excellence currently being built by my good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. The housing development that will go up next door has no connection to either the embassy or the U.S. government. However, it will reflect the NLE's architectural style by featuring a highly prominent and impractical bit of glass construction, kind of the same way our whole new embassy will be a highly prominent and impractical glass construction.

Here's a critical view of the Embassy Gardens 'sky pool' or 'swim bridge' that will connect the two residential wings:
Embassy Gardens, a major new housing development in the Nine Elms district near the Battersea Power Station, may feature a floating “sky pool,” a swimmy bridge suspended between two buildings. According to Homes & Property, it will measure 90 feet long, 19 feet wide, and 10 feet deep, making it one of London’s most distinctive building improvements.

The sky pool is designed to allow condo dwellers at the Nine Elms development to casually traverse the distance between two of its towers by swimming laps. The purpose is not merely to make it easier for residents—and only residents—to get from one rooftop deck to another. It allows them to be seen while doing so.

Nine Elms has a visibility problem: It insists on being seen. It flaunts. The sky pool is cousin to the Nine Elms-to-Pimlico bridge, an outlandish piece of design in the works for the development. (A winner in the architecture competition for that bridge will be named in October.) But a suspended swimming pool is so much worse than an amenity disguised as infrastructure, such as the Garden Bridge. The sky pool secures an ultra-elite experience at the cost of casually insulting a city in the grips of an affordable-housing crisis.

A closer-view artist's depiction of the sky pool / bridge

I am envious of whoever it was who came up with the phrase "an amenity disguised as infrastructure," so perfectly does it describe my own opinion of the New London Embassy's use of glass for exterior walls.


James said...

What's the material they're using for the bridge? All I could think of is someone below putting a round from a center fire rifle into the middle of that thing while people are in it. Would the weight of the structure and water combined with a hard hit in the middle cause a collapse?

James said...

A quick calculation gives me about 420 tons of water.

James said...

Looking at the picture I have some doubts about the 90' x 19' x 10' numbers.

TSB said...

James: You bring up an interesting possibility. I'll bet London urban planners don't consider that kind of threat, at least, not anymore. Back in the IRA's day I'll bet they did.

James said...

I do give them credit for an interesting result. I see no obvious traditional structural members or means of attaching to the buildings (the photo doesn't show much). I would love to know what materials they used.