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Building better cities — one floating pool at a time

This is one of my Christmas gifts. And it is, of course, exactly the sort of thing that gets me excited. Thank you Bianca. You clearly know me.

I am endlessly fascinated by cities. I keep a running list of places I want to explore (everywhere from São Paulo to Shanghai). And frankly, I consider it to be an important part of my job to think about how to make our cities better.

As I was flipping through the book this morning, I was reminded of something that I have been saying for years on this blog. Toronto could use a floating public pool like the Badeschiff (“bathing ship”) in Berlin:

Constructed from the hull of an old cargo vessel, the Badeschiff opened in 2004. The Spree itself is too polluted to swim in (or at least that was the case back in 2004), and so this has become an important swimming outlet for the city.

Paris is in a similar situation with the Seine, but it’s looking to clean it up in time for the Olympics.

The real benefit of a floating pool is that you’re mostly in a big body of water, but now you can also heat it. In the winter, the Badeschiff is covered and turned into a spa/sauna. This would be particularly useful in a place like Toronto.

It’s easy to bring people to water in the summer. Apparently Summer-Badeschiff even has a bar and regular DJ sets (presumably all techno given this is Berlin).

The real challenge is in the winter. And if you’ve ever read an RFP involving a public space in Canada, you’ll know that this question invariably comes up: So, how do we, like, get people to come here when it’s 10 below?

Hot water, nice views, and a little food & drink. I promise that’s all you need.

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