Kickstarter campaign for open-air pool on the Thames hopes to go the distance

The Thames Baths Project

The Thames Baths project, which features plans to create a freshwater swimming pool near Victoria Embankment, launches Kickstarter campaign to help raise £125,000 towards its development

Londoners are being invited to join the capital’s “swimming revolution” and support a crowdfunding campaign to build a freshwater pool in the Thames.

Launched today, the Kickstarter campaign hopes to raise £125,000 for the Thames Baths project while bolstering support for the concept.

The announcement marks a new stage for the project, which was proposed by architects Studio Octopi in 2013 – as part of the “London As It Could Be Now” programme – and developed by the Architecture Foundation with architect Richard Rogers and the Royal Academy of Arts.

It is hoped the baths will add to London’s growing number of riverside attractions, reviving an idea that harks back to the Victorian era, when several floating baths existed on the Thames. The project already has a range of high-profile supporters including Tracey Emin, who features in the Kickstarter campaign film.

“I’ve travelled all over the world and I can’t believe how underused our river is,” she says. “By doing this lido project it would highlight the asset of the river and people would be able to use it. If you could swim in the Thames … it would be incredible.”

A plan of the Thames Baths, which will be situated at Temple Steps, Embankment.
A plan of the Thames Baths, which will be situated at Temple Stairs off the Victoria Embankment. Photograph: Picture Plane/Studio Octopi

Other prominent supporters include Green MP Jenny Jones and author Caitlin Davies, as well as the Royal Academy of Art, The Architecture Foundation and the Outdoor Swimming Society.

The suggested location for the lido is Temple Stairs off Victoria Embankment. The plans include a floating pontoon that will rise and fall with the tide and provide an area of filtered, crystal-clear river water for swimmers. Water in the baths will be heated, providing a year-round swimming spot with a 25-metre pool for laps, as well as a training pool.

The Kickstarter campaign will only part-fund the project, which has an estimated cost of £11m. Those who pledge money will be rewarded with free swims and membership cards, while significant benefactors will have the chance to meet the founders and have access to behind the scenes of the project.

Chris Romer-Lee, project founder and director at Studio Octopi says: “Ever since we first sketched out the original concept for Thames Baths, we have always wanted to build something that benefited the community and that allowed them to participate in its creation.”

“The latter is one of the reasons why we are launching crowdfunding on Kickstarter. We want Londoners, swimmers and anyone passionate about urban waterways to show their support for this project and what better way than a very public campaign.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Will Coldwell, for theguardian.com on Thursday 23rd April 2015 12.26 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010