Floating +Pool would let New Yorkers swim in the river


June 23, 2011

The Plus Pool is a proposed floating swimming pool, that would allow New Yorkers to swim in filtered river water (Image:  Pool)

The Plus Pool is a proposed floating swimming pool, that would allow New Yorkers to swim in filtered river water (Image: Pool)

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It's a hot summer day, you're sweaty and uncomfortable, and there's a river full of cool, clear water right beside you. Do you jump in? Not if you're in New York City, as the rivers that flow through that city are too polluted for swimming ... or at the very least, that's the perception that most people have of them. Three young entrepreneurs, however, have proposed a way of getting New Yorkers into the Hudson, East and/or Bronx Rivers. It's called the +Pool (Plus Pool) - a public swimming pool that would float in the river, allowing people to swim in filtered river water.

The +Pool is the brainchild of architect Dong-Ping Wong, and designers Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeffrey Franklin.

The 9,000 square-foot (836 sq.m.) pool itself would consist of four modules, which would be joined together into a + configuration - hence the name. This shape would allow for it to be divided into a Children's Pool, Sports Pool, Lap Pool and Lounge Pool, although two end-to-end modules could also serve as an Olympic-length lap pool, or the whole thing could just be used for splashing around.

River water would flow into the pool through permeable walls, which would be composed of three layers. The first layer would filter out things such as wildlife, debris, oil and sediments. The second layer would stop finer particles, including algae, bacteria and suspended solids. The third and final layer would kill bacteria and viruses.

Since the concept was launched last June, there has reportedly been a lot of interest in it. Engineering firm Arup even contacted the trio, volunteering its resources for project development. Wong, Coates and Franklin are now working on building a partial pool, to test the filtration system and to demonstrate the feasibility of the idea to the City of New York. Ultimately, they hope to have the complete pool up and running by 2012.

They are currently trying to raise funds, in order to make it all happen. People interested in donating can visit the +Pool webpage.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

A great idea but cleaning up the river shouldn\'t be forgotten. Once the river is clean the pool could still play a role, this time in reverse--help keep the pollution out of the river !


Here\'s a similar idea, already in place about 60 miles up the same river: Of course, that\'s far enough away that the pollution issues may be quite a bit easier..


I wonder if at one point some cigarette product manager said, \"Hey I know! Instead of getting rid of the pollution in our product, let\'s put a filter on it.\"


I seem to remember a pool that was created using a barge somewhere, so this doesn\'t seem so original, though the shape is different.


That\'s such a great idea. It makes use of an existing resource in a novel way and provides a healthy and fun activity for community. It also looks great and is sure to become a tourist attraction as well.

Hamish Robertson

It\'s a perception of pollution? You\'ve obviously never walked anywhere near the East River. The stench is often unbearable.

This idea is a non-starter. What keeps pollutants out will also keep pollutants in, unless you make everyone shower before jumping in.


So how is it anchored or held in place with the current and all?


The Pool is so cool and i want to swim in it! lap pool


We would need some sort of heating of the water for people to risk getting into an English Lake District lake.

Martin Rayner

Since the wall are permeable, I would suspect the water can flow both in and out so that there would be a constant water exchange to \"refresh\" the pool water.

Robert Guimont

@Gadgeteer Yeah, I\'m sure the people who designed this never considered something as basic as filtration and chlorination. Way to keep an open mind...


What I\'m worried about here isn\'t so much the bacteria and oils, but more so the dissolved organic pollutants known to be in the rivers around NY. Your benzene, artificial hormones and other nasties...

Zach Stein

looks great.

Daliya Robson


If you\'re going to go to the trouble of filtering and sanitizing the water, why not just use an impermeable membrane and fresh water instead? Why all this trouble of filtering all that river water into the pool? Believe me, if you ever got near the East River, you wouldn\'t want to smell it, much less swim in it. Any time there\'s heavy rain, the sewer system dumps millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the river.

An open mind is one thing. The inability to think critically is infinitely worse. A few years ago, an artist got city permission to install artificial \"waterfalls\" at several locations around NYC. They even hired \"environmental consultants\" who gave it the thumbs up. I knew that spraying all that river water into the air wasn\'t a smart idea. Guess what? I was right. It killed trees and grass up to hundreds of feet away. And again, you don\'t want to know what the smell was like downwind of the waterfalls.


This sounds like a good idea that could have swimming pools popping up all over. Mind you it should be tested against the brain eating amobe that lives naturally in rivers etc. People dob\'t swim in poluted rivers nowadays so not many people die from it.

I would think the layer that kills bacteria isn\'t 100% and probably would on some recent silver nano tech? Rivers in the western world are becoming a lot cleaner. If clean water showers are on the pool then I think it could catch on. Normal indoor swimming pools with clorine are not as fun as outdoor ones. In Norway people swim in inland lakes all the time in the summer. Norway has more indoor swimming pools per capita than any other country.

Karsten Evans

This is an quiete old concept. During the summer time this kind of swimming pool can be used in Berlin. Have a look:

Stefan Muster

Dome over it, forget the membrane filtration and you have a nice all-weather 3-season facility. With that much space I would design a \'racetrack\' approach to swimming, so people didn\'t have to do flip turns and share lanes with oncoming traffic. Or, harness the tide to generate \'endless\' lap pools for hundreds of swimmers at once.

Tom Goddu
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