Berners Pool in Cumbria, a former Roses Design Awards Grand Prix winner, is about to earn its architect entry into the Rubble Club, despite the fact it is less than five years old!
Stephen Hodder, director of Hodders Associates explains the background: “There was no public swimming facility in Grange-over-Sands, schoolkids were being bussed to neighbouring swimming pools, so residents got together as the Cartnell Residents Association Trust with the aim of bringing a new pool to the area.
“It was a project we were involved with from day one and there was an incredible community spirit. A mail shot of 12,000 took a matter of hours, there was sponsored walk money, £800,000 was donated by 1,000 people and all their names were etched in a screen as a recognition of that commitment. When funding was secured hundreds of people were on the promenade, a local butcher supplied sausages.
“Architecturally the building represented a number of themes, a plinth of in situ concrete covered different level changes almost in a Miesian way with the main pool bulk above and admin and cafe as another object on top. Outside that legibility and orientation is very clear.
“Owned by South Lakeland District Council the pool hall extends beyond the curtain walling to frame the landscape, producing a terrific view of the bay. There was one 90 year old gentleman who’d been a member of Grange-over-Sands swimming club from year dot. Every day he’d climb out of his car in his zimmer and into the pool and he always said the quality was unsurpassed.
“It was incredibly popular with the residents but as a building type I don’t know of a local authority who are running a pool for profit. In the end tragically it just didn’t work commercially for them. The trustees who had been instrumental in creating the building had passed over to a second generation and soon after that we noticed that a structural glass door had been broken and not repaired.
What I mourned was how expendable all that energy was when so many people had given so much.