La Piscine
April 15, 2018 8:35 PM   Subscribe

In the last few years of the twentieth century the Mayor of Lille in northern France had a quandary. The old swimming pool in the small town of Roubaix had been closed in 1985 due to safety problems.  So, why not simply knock the old building down? What was the problem? The swimming pool just happened to be a stunningly beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. Time for a peculiarly French solution.
The Swimming Pool that Turned into a Museum (RJ Evans, Kuriositas) posted by Start with Dessert (22 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Thousands of years from now, archeologists will be confounded at our use of only some pools of water as storage for loose change, and wonder at the anthropological reason for the division.

This pool is lovely, but I’m always a teeny bit sad to see a pool without coins.
posted by crysflame at 8:51 PM on April 15, 2018

So, no swimming? That's a huge let down. It's a beautiful museum but no swimming? At all, ever?
posted by shoesietart at 8:54 PM on April 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

The problem had been with the vault under the pool. After fifty years of supporting the enormous weight of a pool full of water it was estimated that it would probably collapse if it continued to be used as a pool.If there were bathers in the pool at the moment of collapse that might possibly present an issue for the local council.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:01 PM on April 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Damn, that's gorgeous.
posted by egypturnash at 9:01 PM on April 15, 2018

Trekked out to Roubaix once to see this; they won’t let you in with bags, and there is no cloakroom in which bags can be left. Well, Monsieur, you could leave your bag in the street maybe, or you know, go fuck yourself; why would I care?
posted by Segundus at 11:01 PM on April 15, 2018 [11 favorites]

'Bof,' he said, shrugging and doing the hands thing and puffing his lips out Gallicly.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:51 PM on April 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

What effect does the humidity have on the statues?
posted by Cranberry at 12:13 AM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ah. Piscine, the pool. Probably well named.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:20 AM on April 16, 2018

I don't think it's a "huge let down" that there's no swimming, but I do think the real tragedy here is that it wasn't turned into a techno club.
posted by thedaniel at 12:42 AM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

What effect does the humidity have on the statues?

I just emailed the link and that exact question to a friend of mine with a PhD in Museology. I'll let you know what she says.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:20 AM on April 16, 2018

If you like Art Deco architecture, are drawn to decay and culture at the edge of the light cone, and you haven't heard of Lakki, then you have now. It's an example of 'what the hell do we do with this?' to the power of ten. I went there in the late 1990s and I have never, before or since, experienced such an intensely Ballardian landscape - in fact, I doubt strongly one exists, even in Ballard's books.

Swimming pools are also a peculiar nexus in culture, atavistic relics of ritual, medals of status, geometric liminal pockmarks in our linear existence, awkward liquid scabs of environmental engineering, display grounds, fun and horrific. For your contemplation of art and empty swimming pool needs, may I present Bam! Mustaphas Play Stereolocalmusic, recorded as the band marched around in the dewatered Peckham municipal baths because they liked the ambience.

Memories leak like a roof.
posted by Devonian at 3:08 AM on April 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

The article does not contain the most important information of all: how often visitors fall in.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 4:10 AM on April 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

what's in the vault then?
posted by thelonius at 4:13 AM on April 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

That's a really nice solution!

Reminds me of the aviation museum that was turned into* a pool, where you can waterslide out of a Boeing 747 parked on the roof.

[Ok -- the museum and pool are in separate buildings on the same property, but for my kiddos, "going to the museum" was always "water park woooo!"]
posted by klausman at 6:40 AM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Every time I see a gorgeous old Art Deco building like this, it makes me weep that no one makes beautiful buildings any more. :( When I was first on my own, I lived on the second floor of a gorgeous old 1920s bank converted to apartments. It had beautiful brick walls, 15-foot ceilings with super tall windows, and a lovely atrium with a huge domed skylight in the lobby. I loved that place, and would open my windows and sit on the sill and listen to the live bands at the bar next door. Only reason I moved out is because I fell ass-backward into a house, but sometimes I really miss that place.
posted by xedrik at 6:57 AM on April 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have so many questions about this "vault" excuse. There is clearly still water — so it is less? and won't collapse? Why not fix the vault and keep the pool as a pool? I think I love swimming and art equally (which is to say, a lot), but you can have SO MANY museums in so many places. Hate to see a pool die.
posted by dame at 7:26 AM on April 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've been there and it is really beautiful. If I remember correctly, the pool is very shallow (perhaps they raised the floor of the pool?) and it's kind of like a reflecting pool now. Too shallow for anyone who fell in to have any difficulty. It sort of has the feel of a Roman house with its water basin in the center of the courtyard. Except with Art Deco surroundings instead of Roman. The light from the windows and the reflecting water give it a lovely, greenhouse-y feel.
posted by Liesl at 7:48 AM on April 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

>I have so many questions about this "vault" excuse. There is clearly still water — so it is less?

Looking at the "before" pictures, it was much wider and deeper - deep enough for folks to jump off what looks like a 4 or 5 meter high diving platform.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 9:50 AM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

The answer from my museology pal:

Looks like it’s all stone/ ceramic sculpture and amphora— still susceptible to moisture damage but not quite as delicate if not being touched. I’m guessing nothing there is actually ancient
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

The problem had been with the vault under the pool.

Wait, that's a real thing? People actually built vaults under beautiful swimming pools? I always assumed that was just made up for spy/heist movies, to make for an exciting, and visually stunning, underwater safe-cracking scene, followed by the flooding of the vault, and guys in scuba gear grabbing all the cash and jewels floating around in slow motion, set to wild jazz music...

Seriously though, why was there a vault under there? To hold the priceless jewelry of the Guilded Age 1% safe while they went for a swim?
posted by ethical_caligula at 5:53 PM on April 16, 2018

They're probably referring to an architectural vault rather than a bank vault - as much as I really REALLY want it to be a bank vault.
posted by Paragon at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read the danger as that if it collapsed while there were swimmers in there would kill the swimmers, plus it sounds like there's less water in there now.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:51 PM on April 16, 2018

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