After New York City builds its water-filtering swimming pool in the East River, Melbourne may get the Australian version: a floating pool that lets office workers go surfing after work or on lunch breaks.
“This is a way for Melbourne to embrace the water in ways that it hasn’t previously been able to,” says the architect Damian Rogers, who is championing the project. “It’s an hour-plus to get down to the coast where we can surf, so this makes surfing more accessible for people who live in the city.”
The new floating park would be built in the city’s post-industrial Docklands neighborhood, in a bay that was once more commonly used for shipping. Over the last several years, the neighborhood has filled with new housing and offices, but it hasn’t had parks.
“It’s crying out for more public space,” Rogers says. “There’s also a fairly large body of water that separates the different arms of the Docklands, so we see this as an opportunity to help connect them. It’s an accessible place for pedestrians to walk.”
Rogers is talking with different wave technology companies about the design, along with the engineering firm Arup, which is also working on Manhattan’s +Pool. Ultimately, he hopes to produce waves that are good enough to host surfing competitions in the pool.
He also hopes to make surfing part of everyday life in Melbourne, so people can get on a train and walk to a surfable wave. “It becomes another public park in the city,” he says.
Though the project is in the early design stages, Rogers is optimistic that it can happen. “There is power in the people’s voice,” he says. “I do believe if people are interested in this type of idea, that generates a lot of momentum. And there’s been a lot of support. This really allows people to reimagine water in cities, and I think that’s exciting in itself.”