Philippa Eddy Aqualink
LecturersYueyun Song, Rodney Adank, Lyn Garrett, Jason Mitchell
This project responds to New Zealand’s high drowning rate & the declining number of school pools. It focuses on the swim education of children, leveraging the increased retention & skill improvement when taught in open water environments. AquaLink is a modular, floating swimming facility that makes swimming education more accessible by providing a facility where water safety skills can be taught within the context they are needed most, building children’s confidence by gently introducing them to an open water environment.
There are four main modules in the AquaLink system: central hub, corner, t-intersection and straight platform. These inflatable modules link together in a variety of configurations, creating a range of spaces with a walkable “pool edge” that children can hold on to or sit on when receiving instruction. The floating walkways also allow lifeguards to quickly & easily attend to swimmers, and the discrete sections allow modules to gently rock over swells as well as slightly dampen waves.
The bright yellow corner modules and the red central hub are easily identified from both in and out of the water and help define the perimeters of the facility. The central hub acts as a lifeguard station with an elevated 3600 lookout & seat with storage pockets for items such as first aid kits. The straight platform has rope handholds along each side and mounting points for accessories such as ladders, flags, signage and lane ropes.
Each module can be connected by adjustable buckles - easy to use even in the water – and a clip-on linking flap bridges the gap between modules while also covering the air valves. The buckles are inset into the side of each module, eliminating tripping hazards and creating seamless connection points. This linking system also allows for custom modules such as slides or sports goals, expanding AquaLink’s range of applications and users. The drop stitch core and heat fusion technology used in each module is inspired by inflatable stand-up paddle boards. This creates an extremely rigid, durable, and lightweight platform that can hold up to 4 people at a time. Each module inflates in approximately 2 minutes using an electric pump and can be packed down into rolls less than 170cm in length and 35cm in diameter which are easily packed into a trailer, moved between locations, and stored during the winter months.
As in New Zealand we are never more than 130km from the sea, AquaLink is a facility that can be shared between multiple schools, making swimming and water safety skills more accessible to those that struggle with the constant upkeep and running costs of traditional school pools.