Cannonball Into London's 'Commuter Pool' and Swim to Work

A creative London design concept would have commuters swim or ice skate to work

Jenna is a Editorial Intern at TakePart and a high school senior in New York City.

Peeing in the pool just got more serious. An innovative plan from a London design firm calls for the creation of a city “commuter pool” in which ambitious people can swim to work. The design firm behind the idea, Y/N Studio, envisions businesspeople doing the front crawl alongside boats and kayaks as they make their way to work. They would convert London’s underused Regent’s Canal into an eco-friendly commute option. In the winter, the swimming lane would be transformed into an ice-skating track. The whole route, collectively called the LidoLine, would feature “stations” ranging from locker/changing rooms, a floating amphitheater, event space and sunbathing decks.

Most people have enough difficulty commuting, without worrying about showering and toweling off when they arrive at the office. There are other obvious drawbacks to the LidoLine, including the not-so-small problem of keeping your briefcase and change of clothes dry. In addition, some commuters who thought they were cut out for a long swim, may find out otherwise and need assistance halfway through their trek to work.

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The inventors of LidoLine did think of a creative solution to one problem: To keep swimmers from breathing in boat exhaust, the swimming lane would be delineated by a membrane that would filter incoming water. This membrane technology is designed by +POOL, another forward-thinking green company.  Dong-Ping Wong, +POOL’s founder, told TakePart he was very excited about the LidoLine concept: “[Water]...is the next place the public should take back in a way, so I find it very exciting. Looking at the water that way, instead of looking at it as separate from the city, is very exciting.”

The quirky LidoLine design was entered as part of a Green Infrastructure Competition hosted by London’s mayor, the Landscape Institute, and the Garden Museum. The competition, inspired by New York City’s Highline Park, spawned several inventive ideas for how to convert London’s rundown areas into new, green spaces. The LidoLine won second place in the contest. All of the entries were original and thought-provoking, including the winning idea for an underground urban mushroom garden.

Even though many kinks have yet to be worked out, the designers of the LidoLine still had the right idea. Instead of seeing a commute as a vehicle-only affair, they pushed the envelope to come up with a greener, healthier option. From Manhattan’s Highline, to +POOL, to the LidoLine, to urban fungi gardens, it’s clear that designers across the world are doing the same. 

Would you swim or skate to work? What other ideas do you have for creating a green space out of an unused urban area? 

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