Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Blackrock Baths, Ireland

Title:Blackrock Baths
Source: The Irish Times "Blackrock Baths to be Demolished" 03 September, 2012
The architectural beauty and simplicity of the Blackrock baths was one of the inspirations for my final major project at Dunmore East as part of the MSc. Behind the graffiti and neglected structure is a forgotten community space that once overcame the separation between Blackrock and the sea caused by the train line. The baths fell into decline in the 1980’s which led to the once resolved separation returning and the dart line becoming the prominent feature of the Blackrock seafront.

Since the pools decline a major transformation has occurred as to why a pool like this may be required in Dublin. The original perception of this pool in the 1800’s was a place to enjoy the seaside and sunshine when it was available. The arrival of the package holiday and affordable flights eroded this function but recently there has been a revolution as to how we may use these seaside spaces. The health benefits of cold water swimming and the paradigm shift in our culture towards well-being means there are new incentives encourage people to swim. 

Health conscious people may lead the way but the second major culture change involves athletes and the growth of triathlon in Ireland. The national governing body for triathlon in Ireland stated that “Triathlon Ireland has grown from a small sport with 30 events and less than 600 members to 140 events and over 6000 members in just five years”. The result of this extraordinary growth is an increased demand for cold water 50m pools to train in without the danger of collision with marine traffic. The facility at Blackrock is the perfect safe solution to meeting this increasing demand in South Dublin while keeping its historical identity.

My proposal is that this site is made into an architectural competition to explore creative and economic methods to restore the pool beyond its former glory. An emphasis should be made in the brief to retain but soften the pools brutalism which may have been a contributing factor to its decline. Ireland has many creative designers and the decision to demolish this structure shows a serious lack of imagination and foresight to the public needs.