Architecture goes swimmingly

How often do we actually get to use a lovely piece of architecture? Often of course if we have been wise and/or fortunate enough to commission our own home.

For those of us without the resources or the determination, we are dependent on being fortunate enough to be educated, or employed, or even treated, somewhere special.

I don't count museums or even theatres, where we are somehow audiences rather than active participants. But what about swimming pools? Today's crop tend to be mundane, built to a lowest common denominator, unless of course you are in the correct area to use Zaha's Olympic extravaganza. So what a joy it was the other day, to go to Marshall Street baths (now leisure centre) in central London.

Opened in 1931, the pool has a naturally lit barrel vault and is lined with - what luxury - Sicilian white marble. It was closed for a long time before regeneration and reopening in 2010. And what a joy it is to use - a beautiful, well-maintained space. Hooray for the days before cheeseparing and value engineering.



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