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Plans to Build First Ever Sky Pool in Development

Prominent London developers the Ballymore Group are working with aquarium designers on what may very well be the first ‘sky pool’ ever built.

Once construction work is completed the transparent 25-metre long swimming pool, located at Embassy Gardens, will be suspended 10 stories above street level, between two blocks of luxury apartment buildings. Three metres deep and constructed from glass measuring 20 cm thick, the pool will complemented by a roof-top bar, orangery, and spa. Prices for apartments in the complex start at £602,000.

Sean Mulryan, Ballymore Group chairman and CEO, said that the idea for the pool came from his own desire to “push the boundaries in the capability of construction and engineering.”

He said that swimming in the transparent pool would be an experience akin to floating through the air in the centre of London.

Architecture firm Arup Associates designed the pool in collaboration with Eckersley O’Callaghan, structural engineers, and Colorado-based Reynolds Polymer Technology, which specialises in large aquarium windows and transparent underwater tunnels.

Hal Currey, former director of Arup Associates, said that a lower-level link had first been introduced between the two buildings using landscape architecture, and the sky pool was a more creative way of joining the buildings at a higher level.

Brian Eckersley of Eckersley O’ Callaghan told the BBC that designing a ‘swimming pool in the sky’ had unique challenges from an engineering perspective. All buildings move fractionally in the wind, and a fragile, water-loaded structure between two separately moving buildings was a concept that required a lot of expertise.

Although the sky pool is a novel and striking concept, many regard it as a symbol of the housing problems in the capital. Developers pledge to build affordable homes in central locations only to dedicate their efforts to luxury accommodations instead, which price most locals out of the market.

Embassy Gardens is part of the $23 billion Nine Elms development in south west London, whose intent is to regenerate the Battersea district. Its name is derived from the new Dutch Embassy and the United States Embassy which will eventually bracket the development. The U.S. Embassy, designed by Kieran Timberland and located at Grosvenor Square near Hyde Park, has an anticipated completion date of late 2016.

The Nine Elms neighbourhood is also expecting an impressive new pedestrian bridge across the Thames. There is currently a design competition taking place, with the winner scheduled to be named in Autumn.

 

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The addition of the sky pool has been attributed to the involvement of Malaysian property investors EcoWorld, which owns 75 percent of the scheme after forming a joint venture with Ballymore.

Critics point out that homes in the development will be inaccessible to local residents from an affordability perspective, which means that rich Londoners will now be able to flaunt their wealth by floating above the masses in a clear-bottomed pool. Others point out that this may not even happen: the high-priced flats will likely be snatched up by absentee overseas investors when they are put on the market in September.

The sky pool is expected to open in 2019.

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