Brussels' open-air pool shortlisted for international prize

Brussels' open-air pool shortlisted for international prize
Credit: Pool is Cool

Brussels' only open-air swimming pool FLOW in Anderlecht has been shortlisted for a prestigious international architecture prize.

FLOW, an initiative of POOL IS COOL, earned a spot on the shortlist of the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Awards (EUmies awards). Out of 362 nominees, it made it into the top 40, the organisation announced on its social media.

"This nomination is not only a testament to the work of the people and organisations behind the project but also to the power of the ephemeral and grassroots efforts in driving architectural experiments and social cohesion," it noted.

The bathing spot, located at the Pierre Marchant bridge in Anderlecht, first opened to the public in 2021 and has since become locals' favourite spot to cool down in the summer months until early September.

Political provocation

The project's goal is still to show that it is not only possible to have a public outdoor pool in the city, but also that there is a need for it. With the pool's existence, the group wants to put pressure on politicians in Brussels, where there is a chronic lack of such spaces. This was also recognised by the EUmies awards.

FLOW in Anderlecht is currently the only public open-air swimming pool in Brussels. Credit: POOL IS COOL

"Serving both as an example and a provocation, it highlights Brussels' lack of structural open-air swimming spots," EUmies wrote on its social media. "In this way, the pool aims to convince authorities to invest in permanent projects while already offering a real – albeit small – safe and inclusive place to cool down in summer."

This is the second international recognition the pool has received, as it was also selected as a finalist for the European Prize for Urban Public Space 2022.

"We hope that the international appreciation will be understood and shared by the local authorities and that they will be convinced to secure future seasons of FLOW with sufficient financial support," POOL IS COOL concluded.

Winter season in peril

POOL IS COOL launched its very own community of cold-water swimmers this winter by opening up FLOW, the 17 x 7-metre pool during the colder months. Even when water temperatures dropped to 2°C and ice was forming in the pool, people were more enthusiastic than ever to take the plunge.

However, swimming was not possible on Sunday 21 January due to the heavy snowfall in Belgium. Ice formed within the pool's water circuit, which prevented the proper functioning of the filtration system, meaning the water quality could not be guaranteed.

The organisation noted on Monday that it is unclear whether cold water swimming can still go ahead as planned on Sunday as several parts of the system have to be replaced and good water quality must be ensured.

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