A pop-up swimming pool in the middle of an intersection in Vienna turns empty road space into a community place.
Art: Phalanx has turned an intersection into a community space with a swimming pool and leisure space near the Westbahnhof in Vienna. The project, Gürtelfrische WEST, arose from the neighbouring districts 7 and 15 and KÖR — Art in Public Space with support from the Mobility Agency Vienna.
The initiative aims to take back urban spaces for people by offering them the opportunity to go for a dip or relax in the community space right in the middle of the street. The space offers leisure and recreational activities including dance and exercise activities, live performances, concerts and workshops as well as a place to swim, eat or simply take a break with no admission fee.
The Gürtelfrische WEST is one of many initiatives across the globe taking back urban spaces for people and one of other initiatives in Europe bringing the pleasure of swimming to the public. In Brussels, a city without an open-air swimming pool, POOL IS COOL brings pop-up open-air swimming pools to the public across the city to encourage them to discover the pleasure of open-air swimming and to make use of the space they have to enjoy the open air.
While drivers may be disgruntled by the placement of the Gürtelfrische WEST and the middle of an intersection is not the ideal spot for a swimming pool, the unusual placement highlights how much urban space does not really serve the public and their wellbeing or lifestyles. The unconventional recreation space breaks down barriers in how and where we reclaim urban spaces for new purposes allowing us to think outside the box. A lot of urban space is taken for granted and the possibilities for their reuse, redesign and service to the public and public wellbeing are endless when you think that a strip in the middle of a busy intersection can offer so much.