London's Dramatic 'Sky Pool' Sparks Admiration and Derision

A view of the Sky Pool from above. Ballymore Group

Plans to connect two luxury apartment buildings in London with an 82-foot-long glass-bottomed "Sky Pool" were met with a mixture of curiosity, awe and outrage when they were announced by developers Thursday.

Described as a "world first" by property developers the Ballymore Group in a statement emailed to Newsweek, the pool is designed to connect two residential buildings in London's upmarket Nine Elms neighborhood, allowing residents to swim—and peer down—from 10 stories in the air. Along with the Sky Pool, the top-floor outdoor Sky Deck of the building will include a spa and summer bar. The 16-foot-wide, nearly 4-foot-deep Sky Pool will be "entirely transparent and structure-free," according to Ballymore. The glass will be nearly 8 inches thick (which somehow still doesn't seem thick enough).

A view of the Sky Pool from the ground. Ballymore Group

Despite being located in a city with less than prime weather conditions for taking an outdoor dip, news organizations labeled the pool "awesome " (Quartz) and "amazing" (The Times of London). Penthouses and apartments in the two buildings will start at $942,572 (or 602,000 pounds), The Verge reports. That's nearly three times the average house price in the U.S., which is $328,700, and more than three times the price of the average home in the U.K., at 181,619 pounds.

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Other news outlets focused on the fact that this architectural wonder, located in the Embassy Gardens complex next to the new U.S. Embassy on London's South Bank, will likely be used only by the super-wealthy and warned of London's preparations "for a flood of bathing oligarchs" (The Guardian). Tech website Geekologie headlined a piece on the pool "Damn Rich People: London Luxury Apartment Complex Getting a Suspended, Glass-Bottomed Swimming Pool," while Vice laid it out bluntly with its piece: "Rich People in London Will Soon Get a Swimming Pool in the Sky."

The "Sky Pool" is not the first ostentatious swimming pool developers are planning to have grace Britain's capital. The Greenwich Peninsula housing complex, which is still under construction, claimed in April to house "London's highest residential swimming pool," located on the 15th floor of its 23-story building, while the Warehaus apartment building in the East London neighborhood of Hackney features a glass-bottom rooftop pool that overlooks a communal atrium.

But for some, the transparent, luxurious Sky Pool takes things to another level. Images of London's oligarchs literally looking down on Londoners as they perfect their backstroke are best conjured up by The Verge, which envisions " the super-rich [swimming] through the air." They add that the development is "symbolic of London's housing problems," as the apartments are largely aimed at attracting wealthy foreign buyers instead of housing the average Londoner. As The Guardian asks, "For the overseas investor who has it all, what better trophy to add to the portfolio of properties you will never visit than an apartment with its own 'sky pool'?"

Noting the "floor-to-ceiling windows and brick facades," Ballymore said it was inspired by the architectural hallmarks of Manhattan's Meatpacking District. Apartments in the buildings connected by the Sky Pool will go on sale in September. Ballymore hopes the whole development, which will house 2,000 units, including the Sky Pool, will be ready in 2019.

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London's Dramatic 'Sky Pool' Sparks Admiration and Derision | World