With summer arriving in Britain and the long coronavirus lockdown ending, some brave Londoners are flocking to enjoy a divisive new attraction.
Dubbed the “world’s first floating pool” by its promoters and a “human aquarium” by at least one critic, a 25-metre pool with a transparent bottom has been capturing attention across the city after opening just days ago.
But it’s also left many feeling a bit uneasy – for a host of reasons.
“Good for them … but me???” one Twitter user wrote.
“Hell no! Scared to death of heights.”
Open only to residents of the swish new apartment development, the “sky pool” is on the complex’s 10th floor, suspended between two towers.
Its transparent bottom offers swimmers an unbroken view of the ground 35 metres below. Worryingly – for some – the water in the pool apparently weighs about 375 tonnes.
But there’s more to question about the sky-high pool. The residential complex it occupies is next to the US Embassy in the upmarket suburb of Nine Elms. Monthly rental for apartments ranges from about $3300 to closer to $12,000.
According to some reports, access to the exclusive sky pool is not available even for everyone who lives in the towers.
“The residents in the affordable apartments are not allowed to use the pool, or the front door,” Twitter user Dan Palmer wrote.
One resident of one of the cheaper apartments, Iqbal, told The Guardian earlier in 2021 that the small entry he and his neighbours must use is known as the “poor doors”.
“We have a front-row seat of the sky pool,” he said.
“The sad thing for us, living in the shared-ownership building, is that we will never have access to it. It’s only there for us to look at, just like the nice lobby, and all of the other facilities for the residents of the private blocks.
“Nobody expects these amenities for free, but we’re not even given the choice to pay for them.”
There were more critics online, with many questioning the expensive development in a formerly industrial part of London – which has a severe housing shortage.
“We’re never again going to have all this abandoned industrial space, which could’ve transformed the lives of people in a borough where thousands are statutorily homeless or spending half their income on private rent,” local Labor councillor Aydin Dikerdem tweeted as part of a long thread.
Others were more brutal: “Must be odd living in these particular flats – people swimming along peering in your windows all day long. Like a human aquarium,” wrote Twitter user Dan Barker.
Nonetheless, the pool was particularly busy during last weekend’s bank holiday as London temperatures soared – wait for it – as high as 26 degrees.