Yarra Pools has teamed up with Melbourne-based architecture firm Wowowa and the National Gallery of Victoria to come up with a design for Melbourne’s northern riverfront, complete with a river pool and wetlands.
The design incorporates a 50m lap pool, wetlands, cafe, changing facilities, community pavilions and a kayak launching spot. The aim is for it to transform part of the Yarra’s underutilised north bank.
Michael O’Neill, president of Yarra Pools, says that the design is the culmination of two years of research into what Melburnians want the pool to be.
“It’s based on our core design principles that were shaped by extensive community engagement, existing government strategies and regulation, and economic considerations for the City of Melbourne,” he says.
It is a design that focuses on a diversity of uses and maintains an array of native vegetation – creating what they call an oasis for recreation and a water-focused meeting place for the community. With the city’s population growing by more than 100,000 per year, there is an urgent need for quality open space that caters for active recreational uses.
The Yarra Pools concept was first announced in 2016 with the core principles and objectives of: being usable all year round, having a positive environmental impact, accommodating a wide variety of uses, and celebrating the unique cultural values at the site.
The proposal is backed up by business modelling which shows there is a definite need, predicting such a facility would attract 350,000 people per year, for swimming alone, with the numbers growing to 550,000 by 2036.
Rejuvenation of a rich natural environment
Monique Woodward of Wowowa says the design is focused on the rejuvenation of this culturally significant place into a rich natural environment.
“The swimming pools emerge from this newly formed landscape to create a rich tapestry of spaces for leisure, events and water activities, transforming this dense urban edge of city,” she says.
It utilises a naturally occurring filtered water process, using wetlands and the submerged water plants to filter and sustain clean and clear water.
Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly is a fan of the proposal.
“If we want people to want to protect the Yarra we need people to engage with the river,” he says.
“What I like about this project is the wetlands, the soft connection with our waterway. We have too many walls along our river and this concept is starting to break them down, and that’s fantastic. It turns an under-loved part of the river into a magnet for people (and wildlife) and celebrates our connection with water.”