Southwark Lido

9 - 13 July 2008

An temporary lido, created by acclaimed French architecture collective EXYZT and filmmaker Sara Muzio appeared on Union Street, London SE1 in July 2008. Following in the tradition of Roman baths and Turkish hammams, which provided a setting for social gathering, ritual cleansing and uninhibited political discussions, the Southwark Lido hosted a variety of activities in an unusual, architecturally innovative environment. Curated by The Architecture Foundation, the Lido provided bathing and breathing space for the general public, residents of Southwark and visitors to London Festival of Architecture 2008 (LFA2008) alike. Within a futuristic low-tech complex, visitors of all ages could enjoy the refreshing spray of the water deck, or sweat it out in a purpose-built sauna; there was a paddling pool for children; beach huts doubling as changing rooms and living pods for staff; a sun deck; a bar. On hand to assist visitors were the EXYZT team wearing uniforms designed by House of Holland. Adding colour was a mobile garden, created on-site in collaboration with Bankside Open Spaces Trust, which was distributed throughout the neighbourhood at the end of the Festival.

The Southwark Lido expressed EXYZT’s strategy of urban renewal, based on the idea that a community of users actively creating and inhabiting their urban environment is key to generating a vibrant city. This project explores the potential of using a site in transition from empty lot to new residential and office buildings, generously lent by Solidspace, to create a vibrant point of community and cultural engagement during its transformation. The run-up to its installation saw the organisers forming links with the local community and specific groups, providing them with a new place to hold events and share their work.

The Lido sat within LFA2008’s Southwark & South Bank Hub curated by The Architecture Foundation, which occupies a dynamic part of London that has moved away from its traditional label as ‘the other side’ of the Thames. It is now a major cultural quarter, with key venues like Tate Modern sitting alongside proposed urban redevelopments such as ‘The Shard’ (Renzo Piano’s new office tower) and developments at London Bridge. Lively activities across the Hub built on the area’s history, to reveal a hinterland of hidden territories and offer new visions for the contemporary city.

Construction and activities at this temporary settlement began on 20 June, with a programme of public events from 9 to 13 July.

A book about the Southwark Lido is available for purchase here.

Sponsored by:

Lottery Funded Arts Council England




Solid Space