Prague plans pools in the Vltava

The first of several floating pools could open next year

Prague is planning to create swimming pools in the Vltava river. The first one could be as early as next year. Each pool should cost around Kč 70 million to build, and after that they should be operated by a specialized company.

“We want to make at least one pool next year. It will probably be between Palackého most and the railway bridge,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) told daily Mladá fronta Dnes. The pool would add to the live music, outdoor pubs, markets and other attractions on the waterfront.

A second, larger pool could eventually be built near Libeň, although the place has not been decided. Krnáčová says the Libeň area does not have many options for relaxing by the water.

An issue that still needs to be settled is what type of pool it will be. One option is a floating concrete tank filled with fresh water, Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) spokesman Marek Vácha said. This resembles a classic swimming pool, but simply set into the river. A similar one exists in Berlin on the Spree river.

A second type would be to have a filter system installed, so that people would actually be swimming in Vltava river water that has been cleaned to meet hygiene standards. Copenhagen has pools of this type connected to piers.

The Vltava river is maintained by state firm Povodí Vltavy, which will also have a say in the pool project. Mayor Krnáčová said she did not foresee problems in reaching an agreement with them.

Some of the money to create the pools is already set aside in the municipal budget for waterfront development.

An idea to create a floating circular pool with filtered river water was put forward in 2011 by architects Ondřej Lipenský and Andrea Kubná. This pool would be accessible by boat, and not connected to a pier. The water would be filtered by a textile membrane. The floating ring would have changing rooms and other facilities, and have a capacity of 300 people.

This plan was not specifically mentioned as an option being considered, though Mayor Krnáčová discussed a circular design for the potential pool in Libeň.

Historically, people used to swim in the Vltava. The building Občanská plovárna, which now has a restaurant and jazz club, used to be one of the places where people could access an enclosed area of the river. Franz Kafka was among the patrons. Deteriorating water quality, though, made swimming in the unfiltered water unsafe.

Mayor Krnáčová said this area could also in the future be returned to a place for swimming, and the building could be renewed.

People still do swim in the Vltava on occasion, such as the annual Saint Stephen's Day swim on Dec. 26. This has been taking place for more than half a century, with people jumping into the icy water.

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