One man’s trash is another man’s… swimming pool?

Simple ideas which start with the desire to reduce and save, or from an initial lack of resources, often result in innovative solutions. By reusing everyday objects and readapting them to give them a new life, we create solutions which are more efficient, both economically and environmentally, and provide a much greater sense of satisfaction and self-sufficiency. When applied in a greater urban context, these solutions can be used to benefit and enhance the community.

While researching for another project I’m working on, I came across a really cool temporary project in New York City: public swimming pools, made out of dumpsters! The idea was generated by the development company Macro-Sea, who retrofitted the dumpster, using simple materials, and held pool parties in Brooklyn. The concept quickly caught on and was adopted as part of New York City’s Summer Streets program in 2010, providing three free public swimming pools along Park Avenue. This project utilizes what would otherwise be considered trash, linking the idea of reuse with the concept of the urban backyard of the parklets.


I think this idea is brilliant as it provides a public amenity which would otherwise require large capital investment and a lengthy process to provide. Macro-Sea has identified a need and found an innovative, economically and environmentally efficient way to address this community need with existing resources. I love the fact that the local residents have embraced it so quickly and I applaud the City of New York for being open enough to adopt the idea. The only somewhat unfortunate aspect of the project is that the pools that are part of the program are all made from brand-new dumpsters rather than used ones because of health requirements.


This project also links to the idea that if we can provide great public amenities more easily, we incentivize individuals and families who chose to live in an urban, higher density setting. With a higher availability of accessible amenities, young families are slightly more likely to shift their desire for a large backyard in the suburbs into a more sustainable urban lifestyle. It is ideas like this which will lead us to the carbon efficient cities we want and need.

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