Located in the heart of Belgium, the city of Brussels lacks outdoor swimming spaces. To change that, a local initiative took the step to create pop-up pools for the people.
POOL IS COOL is a community of citizens and experts who are on a mission to bring back outdoor swimming to Brussels — a city in need of more public blue. The Belgian capital, landlocked in the heart of the country but surrounded by lakes and streams, is one of the few cities in Europe that don’t have any public pools. Exploring different ways on how to create urban swimming facilities, POOL IS COOL demonstrates the (unused) potential of water in urban space.
POOL IS COOL designs and builds new swimming pools from scratch, making clever use of already-existing water resources. Just recently, the public fountain near the city’s north station turned into an urban water playground. For a single day, it became a popular meeting point for citizens of all ages to come together and dip their toes into the water. In the summer of 2017, POOL IS COOL put a container in the middle of the city, filled it with water, and invited the locals to dive in.
This summer, the POOL IS COOL team took water samples from a canal in Brussels that turned out to be of good enough quality for swimming. With swimming in the canals not allowed by the city government, POOL IS COOL organized a guerrilla event that encouraged people to just jump into the water. The event turned out to be a huge success.
The pop-up pools have shown that water brings together citizens of all backgrounds. Just like parks and museums, public pools are social places that cities need. More than fostering communities, swimming spots offer opportunities for leisure and sports — crucial for a healthy urban society. But it’s not all fun and games. By getting people to use urban waters, POOL IS COOL wants to start a conversation about pollution in natural streams and lakes around the city as well.