Side by side, the competition-winning design by Wilkinson Eyre, following a RIBA competition to design a new pool for Worthing; and the final design, after changes at the planning application stage.
While it’s great that Worthing is getting a new pool, a major civic investment, it concerns me that the design has been compromised.
In particular, the seafront elevation shown here doesn’t seem to blend well into the beach – and not shown here, will actually present a large wall to the beach. The connection to the neighbouring Esplanade, a 1930s raised walkway, has also been broken – and the walkway itself partially demolished ‘for security reasons’. The cantilevered cafe (on the right) has been reduced in height and thrust, losing the drama of the curved form, the cantilever and the cladding in the process – and in fact the cafe will now be to the north of the building, overlooking the road and not the seafront.
But perhaps most importantly the charm of the original wiggling roof, which looks like the patterns made by waves in sand, has been lost in favour of a more industrial form.
After getting the public behind the initial designs, I think those involved in planning, architecture and regeneration need to keep talking, educating and informing their audience about the process of urban design; and as importantly, managing expectations. This isn’t just about this small building in Worthing – it something to consider for all planning and regeneration projects, particularly if we want local people to become more engaged with the process and practice of urbanism.
in this case, we’re getting a good pool, but not the great one we were expecting.
(images Wilkinson Eyre Architects/ Worthing Borough Council shared with kind permission of Paul Yallop, Worthing Borough Council)