[Y/N] studiohas an exciting new proposition for you if you happen to live in London, England, near the Regents Canal called LidoLine. If you are tired of public transportation or bored of walking or cycling to work, [Y/N] studio suggests swimming to work along one of London’s canals. The ambitious project, runner-up in the 2012 Landscape Institute Ideas Competition of London, has many unresolved considerations, but the fundamental desire to reinvigorate and address the potential of public space along London’s canals is certainly admirable. Being a bit far-fetched, the design has rallied a few criticisms, but let’s consider what the project really addresses.
Like many cities established along a waterway for the purposes of industry, London’s canals have been forgotten since the function of the canal was replaced with other means of transportation. The chance to redefine these types of spaces and reinsert them into the life of a city, for both recreational and industrial purposes, is certainly an opportunity to develop social and cultural infrastructure and re-engage a lost portion of a city.
Residents of London are probably keenly aware of the dangers associated with the current state of the waterways: litter and pollution are valid concerns, as anyone living in a populous city could vouch for. But [Y/N] studio covers this aspect by proposing a clean, safe basin that can be used for swimming whose perimeter can be used for other leisurely activities, sharing the capacity of the canals for both the current boaters and new patrons.
Technically, [Y/N] studio suggests that the routes for swimming could be formed by “a breathable, multi-layered membrane, filtering detritus and bacteria at decreasing scales”. Further incorporating oxygenating reeds in key locations can also improve bio-diversity and cleanliness. (via DesignBoom)
The intention here is to build upon the already existing conditions that make up London’s urban fabric. The suggestion provides a history, a sense of association, and a consideration of repurposing. Rather than multiplying green spaces and open fields that fail when they are underused, this proposal seeks to invite activity back into a space that was once such an important component of the city’s economic and social status.
Exhibition of the design is currently on display at the Garden Museum in London until October 20th, 2012.