Melburnians may soon be swimming in a waterway pool fed by the Yarra River as early as next summer. The concept design for the Yarra Pool is featured in the broadsheet publication of The Pool, Australia’s Venice Biennale Exhibition, which opened over the weekend on May 28th. The concept has been visualised by Melbourne non-profit, Yarra Swim Co in partnership with UK architecture firm, Studio Octopi.

An increasingly popular concept globally, waterway pools are already in place in Berlin, Paris and Zurich, with plans underway for New York and London. The ‘Thames Baths’ in London was launched in 2013 and has since gathered substantial international support, including a successful crowd-funding campaign raising over £140,000. Studio Octopi, the architectural practice behind the Thames Baths is now working with commercial sponsors and partners to deliver the scheme in central London.

Studio Octopi’s rendering for the Venice exhibition, in collaboration with Yarra Swim Co, includes a 25m lap pool and a smaller children’s play-pool within a planted, floating pontoon. The concept design provides for spectacular views of Melbourne’s CBD from the water and surrounding decks and includes changing facilities and a cafĂ©. The Yarra Pool is expected to activate the river bank and provide a vibrant new public destination in Australia’s rapidly growing cultural capital.

Preliminary discussions have been held with a number of key stakeholders to explore potential sites and opportunities for delivery of the concept. Global engineering and design firm Arup who are working on a variety of urban plunge projects around the world including New York’s +Pool, has offered advice and support. A patent is also currently pending on a locally developed technological solution that may allow river water to supply the pool.

The Yarra Pool project is expected to cost AU$6 – 8 million, and will be funded through a mix of sponsorship, grants and debt equity.

The Yarra Splash project could see Melburnians testing the concept as early as next summer.

Image: The Yarra Pool rendering for the Venice Biennale. Concept designers: Studio Octopi in conjunction with Yarra Swim Co and Picture Plane.