Author : Yongwon Kwon

University : Columbia University, GSAPP

Status : MArch, 2013

Advisor : Christina Goberna

Title : Transforming Swimming Pool

This project is primarily to hypothesis what a swimming pool is or can be, and if so what does this transformation mean to the urban city? The project is a prototype for this type of concept and the site chosen to implement this urban intervention is Harlem, New York. In specific the project dealt with the East-Harlem community and the low-renting locals who have limited access to these so called “public spaces”, and how students from Columbia can also participate, share, and interact with this common space.

Discrimination in Swimming Pool

The project is planned to function for both University students and Harlem residents. In order to compromise the different users, the building is to be optimized to the needs and desires of both parties. But, between these different occupants lies a gap in terms of racial and social status. Especially in relation to history, the public swimming pool has been a central issue relating segregation and discrimination; due to the fact that they are sharing water and using a space to undress/display the naked body. Unfortunately society lacks progress, and this issue is still valid in today’s developed cities. Weather we are talking about racial segregation, property, gentrification, individual interests, or social issues, the pool should not be privatized but hybridized into an urban element to interconnect locals/visitors in the cities common place. Let’ create pool cities that allow both private and public moments, and in some cases these moments collide into hybridized situations and opportunities.

Architectural animal

How can the architect meet such a broad-spectrum of needs for the diverse user(s) within a limiting program and space? Throughout the history of modern architecture, architects suggested a grid system, which helped maximize the program space and function. This project purposes Architectural Animal, which is conceptualized from an optimistic perspective toward the revolution of building technology.  Architectural Animal is a machine, which is transforms depending on needs of a range of divers users. If the traditional grid system has provided free of usage of a space, Architectural Animal one ups that by providing us free of capacity of space; maximizing space through transformers.

The transforming machine

The project consists of two systems. One is a linear public swimming pool and the other is an individual private-pool machine. The private pool machine is attached alongside the main public swimming pool, which can move vertically from public to private conditions. The kinetics of the machine is activated through the request of the user. Furthermore, the circulation of the personal pool from entrance to a shower booth to a changing room is totally separated from the circulation of the main public swimming pool. Yet a link is created to enter in the public swimming pool from the personal pool module. Through this strategy, the user gets a right to choose their status in terms of private and social relationship.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we, the audience, should be aware of?
Yongwon Kwon_ The project was started from a desire to liberate a building from constraint of their program and physical capacities. The argument here is that ‘Grid system’ we got it from glorious architectural legacy is not enough to satisfy today’s innumerable desires. The architectural animal; I usually call series of my works, which has similar movement; is based on low technologies, which can be achieved with principles of automatic process. Throughout reviving under-recognized the possibilities of architectural technologies, the project liberates not only desires of public but also architecture itself.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interests you?
YK_ I am specifically interested in interactive design. The question I have is how those interesting projects can be embedded and influence a real building, furthermore real people.

S//A : Most important thing you remember from architecture school?
YK_ Today’s schools provide a large number of subjects that can intertwine, and if you know what your passion in, you can get what you want and be involved in things you like. Be aware of yourself. Find out what interests you, and start playing…

S//A : What is your dream project
YK_ A public community program.