Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Pool Piazza

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posted on 2023-09-19, 03:48 authored by Ho Yan Janice Chan

Public swimming pools are undeniably public spaces that positively contribute to communities and cities by providing valuable amenities such as exercise, entertainment, fun, education, recreation and spaces for children. Dan Hill’s comparison of the Australian public swimming pool to a European piazza, in the way that the pool operates as a public hub, has informed this research, and prompted the question: How can the conceptualisation of a pool as piazza inform the design of a truly public and civic pool for Wellington? The design-led research responds to this question through the speculative design of a new public “pool piazza” for Wellington that foregrounds the immediate, experiential and fun potentials of an urban pool. The design response investigates the prospect of outdoor public swimming in the context of an inner-city location and how a public swimming pool can have a bigger presence in the urban, cultural and social context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The swimming pool is used as a site to explore social and urban conditions, while borrowing its open and playful typology. Design-led research methods of drawing, physical and digital modelling, photography and collage are used to explore possibilities of an urban pool for Wellington through the development of ‘pool tools’ that explore “pool piazza” moments, and over 15 iterations of potential “pool piazzas”. The research revealed a dynamic urban pool landscape suited towards Wellington’s changing weather conditions that invites different types of occupation throughout the seasons and different levels of engagement with water. Theories and precedents of public space and urban design guide the research in an attempt to reveal the social potentials of public swimming pools as valuable destinations in the city.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

130603 Recreation and leisure activities (excl. sport and exercise)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Scott, Rosie