Leeds International Pool Transformed Into Major Artwork

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 08 February 2008
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an artist mock up showing a large white object suspended over a swimming pool

Image courtesy Leeds City Council/OSA

With its bold 1960s styling, Leeds International Pool has been loved and loathed by local people in equal measure, but now, prior to a major redevelopment, it is to be transformed into an iconic temporary artwork.

The pool has been a controversial building and an integral part of the cityscape of Leeds for the past four decades; now the disused sports complex is to become the site of an ambitious installation created by acclaimed international artists and architects OSA (Office for Subversive Architecture).

OSA are hosting The Accumulator, which will transform the building into a virtual water collector via a huge textile funnel in the building’s central glazed roof space.

Visitors will be able to walk around the dry pool floor and sit on red seating dotted about from the former public viewing areas to take a look at the installation from the inside. It will also be illuminated at night.

Leeds artist Pippa Hale will contribute an installation called Pool which includes a series of projections showing people engaged in a range of activities associated with the building, from learning to swim to taking a bath. Her work is designed as a celebration of the building and the different communities that have used it over the years.

For Leeds council, who are backing both of the artworks, the project is a way of raising the city’s profile on the international stage.

“Leeds is an international city capable of attracting the best international talent and the OSA collaboration certainly demonstrates that, ably supported by one of our best local artists,” said Cllr Andrew Carter, Leeds City Council Leader and executive member for Development.

“If we are to be a serious player on the international stage we must make bold statements like this which prove we can compete with other major European cities- not only in business, tourism and sport but also the arts and other public arenas.”

a large white object suspended over a swimming pool

The Accumulator, photo © Phil Day, 2008.

OSA, the organisation behind the giant installation, is an internationally known collective of eight architect/artists with an impressive track record for transforming public buildings with challenging temporary artworks. Their approach is to enable the viewer to look at everyday buildings in a totally different way.

Past work has included transforming a circular building into a massive birthday cake for a major anniversary in Frankfurt, turning a disused signal box on stilts into a mock-Tudor semi in London and changing the exterior appearance of a top floor room of a Liverpool building to make it appear as if it is actually indoors.

Bernd Truempler, co-creator of the Leeds installation with Karsten Huneck, explained the concepts behind this latest venture: “There are two main concepts behind The Accumulator: one is looking at the idea of a big old building not sustainable any more and not energy efficient – the funnel relates to how we work with material resources.”

“The other is the idea of the pool as a public space and how much investment people have had in it over the years. As such it’s always going to be emotionally-charged because of people’s experiences here, whether swimming themselves or watching their children learn and compete.”

The Accumulator and Pool will be open to the public in the second half of the week and at weekends from Friday February 22, with its final day for visits being Easter Sunday (March 23). Opening hours are noon-6pm on Thursdays and Fridays and noon-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Find out more about the work of OSA on their website at www.osa-online.net/de/frameset/zenset.htm

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