London getting ‘sky pool’: London Sky Pool

Published: August 21, 2015

London getting ‘sky pool’: London Sky Pool, For the overseas investor who has it all, what better trophy to add to the portfolio of properties you will never visit than an apartment with its own “sky pool”? London may already have a fairytale Sky Garden, but now Irish developer Ballymore plans to introduce a “world first” all-glass swimming pool bridge between two apartment blocks in Nine Elms, allowing its residents to float 10 storeys up in the air.

There are plenty of good reasons why no one has done this before – but that hasn’t deterred the plucky developer Sean Mulryan – ever keen to adorn his developments with an outlandish gesture that no other project can claim – from giving it a go.

“My vision for the sky pool stemmed from a desire to push the boundaries in the capability of construction and engineering,” says Mulryan, who grew up in poverty in rural Ireland, but now presides over a vast property empire with more land in London than the Duke of Westminster. “I wanted to do something that had never been done before.”

Designed by engineering giant Arup Associates with Eckersley O’Callaghan, plus aquarium specialists Reynolds, the 25-metre-long pool will be completely “structure free” and made of 20cm thick glass sheets, through which swimmers will be able to gaze at the lesser residents of Wandsworth below. Not that there will be much street life to behold: the £1bn Embassy Gardens scheme will be London’s most secure residential zone, its mighty blocks of 2,000 luxury flats huddled in a fortified arc around the new US Embassy.

Views of the embassy from the pool are trumpeted as a key selling point. But it is a curious decision to suspend an all-glass bridge beside a building that believes itself to be at such risk of a terror attack that it cowers behind a 30-metre-deep bomb-blast zone.

Having an aerial aquarium of oligarchs next door will surely only add to the temptation for any budding bomb enthusiasts. Not that the owners will ever be around to use it: it’s likely to turn a similar shade to the sludgy green tiles of the buildings that support it, making it the world’s first slimy pond in the sky.

Henry Pryor, a buying agent for wealthy clients, said he thought the plans for the pool were “genuinely crackers” and wondered “are there enough exhibitionists to fill it?”

“It’s not easy to say for sure what the extras like pools, tennis courts and home cinemas add to a home,” he told the Guardian. “But for the first time I can honestly say that, while my admiration for the architect is close to reverence, this absurd addition must surely be the biggest mistake I have ever come across.”

The addition of the pool appears to be the result of the recent involvement of EcoWorld, a Malaysian property investment company that now owns 75% of the scheme, having formed a £2.2bn joint venture with Ballymore. It is a marriage that has souped up many of the company’s projects, adding a big dose of bling for the Asian investor market – where most of this development has so far been sold, with one-beds starting at £666,000 and penthouses going for £5.5m.

EcoWorld and Ballymore are not alone in pimping up their developments to match the expectations of this new kind of client. On the Greenwich Peninsula, where Hong Kong developer Knight Dragon is busy building a £5bn new quarter, they have lured the talents of former Habitat design impresario Tom Dixon to decorate a select number of £2.1m penthouses with “high concept interiors”, inside a bulky cluster of angular glass towers by SOM.

For sale exclusively through the Modern House, these glitzy confections mix “art deco motifs” with “robust and industrial materials [to] lend a strong British narrative”, apparently drawing on the history of Greenwich through the use of copper, leather and wood. Stair balustrades will be lined with colour-changing diachroic glass, bringing a whiff of the Essex boy-racer, while your kitchen splashback will be made by the people who do the London Underground signage. Fancy.


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