R14 – AA School

A swimming pool is typically an occasion in a story but rarely its heroine. This is unsurprising because on the surface, it is a simple object. However, its shadowy depths reveal a powerful space of imagination where spatial, socio-political, physiological, and psychological constructs are framed. Through a series of short essays, each of which is coupled with a single image, this symposium will compose an incomplete mosaic that reasserts the protean quality of the space and its relevance in contemporary society, including and equally importantly, as a space of exchange, dialogue and narration that is underlined in the format of the event. Text from www.aaschool.ac.uk/publicprogramme/whatson/swimming-pool-stories-symposium


What is the meaning of a space deprived of its essential function or purpose? 

The void of a pool may be viewed as a place in itself. It could be extended to a wide range of unknown scenarios and acquire other meanings, producing a new vision. There is a golden foil covered pool surface on the left, and a hollow pool volume on the right side.  

Centro Balneare Romano. The environmental intervention Emergence Pool by Nari Ward transforms the swimming pool into a sprawling golden expanse with thousands of thermal blankets. In this work, the known space of the pool has become abstract and pristine, yet the materiality of its surface evokes certain conditions related to the body, migration, and the crossing of water territories.  Despite the absence of the ponderous element of water and the inaccessibility of the gilded surface, the pool remains connected to the physical experience, to the relation of the body in a specific element that could be both playful and dramatic, reassuring and disorienting.  

Parco Trotter. The dismissed swimming pool has been a ruin in the park for a number of years, covered by lush vegetation, almost hidden and forgotten. For the past several years, it has been used as a volleyball field by a community of transgender people who have used it as a Sunday meeting place. It has been recently renovated and converted into a free playground, resulting in the pool becoming a catalyst for local communities, predominantly migrants, to use the void as an opportunity to play together, as a leisure and escape space, as well as to affirm a group’s identity also melting it into others.  

The two pools are counterparts, which create a dichotomy. Both devices work by paradoxically overturning and extending the use/meaning of their primordial typology. A system of public facilities was built in Milan in the ‘20s with the aim of introducing outdoor sports and leisure in an urban context, while also providing a gateway for disadvantaged groups. Throughout the years, they have created a new meaning of collective space, becoming part of the cityscape and a part of daily life. As part of a network of outdoor public swimming pools open during the summer season, Centro Balneare Romano offers a 100x40m swimming pool which can accommodate 1500 people. The pool is surrounded by a lawn and small pavilions that were once used for leisure activities. During the same time period, the pool of Parco Trotter was constructed in a park previously used for horse races, whose circuit shape can still be seen in the inner circulation. The building was part of a complex that served as a sanatorium for sick children with educational purposes. Currently, the park is used as a school and is open to the public when the school is closed.


AA Lecture Hall



Swimming Pool Stories Symposium

AASchool | Nina Gupta

Phd. Chiara Toscani, Paola Mongiu & Juarez Corso


Photo by Juarez Corso

Introduction by Naina Gupta, Anna Font, Monzie Tan, Dariya Cheremisina, Davide Deriu, Nerma Cridge, Chris Doray, Doreen Bernath, Agnes Tatzber, David Ward, ToMoCo, Aiden Domican, Chiara Toscani & Claudia Nitsche, Mads Bjørn Christiansen, Chris Romer-Lee, Alexander Teddy.