Southwark Lido Book // 2009

Following the success of the Southwark Lido in July 2008, which attracted much positive feedback from visitors and residents alike, Sara edited a book of images and texts on the Lido, published by Gattacicova in July 2009.


The book documents the life of the Lido and people’s responses to it. It serves both as a souvenir and as a suggestion of the possibilities offered by the temporary activation of sites in transition.

The book consists of 108 printed pages, full colour throughout, with brief texts from participants and photographs. The graphic design is by Directeur Général, part of the EXYZT collective, who gave the Lido its graphic identity. It includes pages exploring the Southwark and South Bank area, the collaboration with local organisations, building the Lido, the potential for ephemeral architecture in sites in transition, and the constructive relationship between Solid Space, EXYZT, the London Festival of Architecture and The Architecture Foundation.

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The Southwark Lido, which delighted locals and visitors during its short life in Union Street in Summer 2008, lives on through this paperback.
The lido was a temporary installation on a plot of derelict land as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

The book records through words and pictures the contribution so many people made to the project – from the young people taking part in SOWF’s Street Genius programme to Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

Property developer Roger Zoglovich writes about how the lido project “sidestepped the abstract and frustrating limitations of long-term development processes to create a real and pleasurable place”. He says that the lido taught him about the benefits of conversation rather than confrontation and that “development can simply be a process of gradual occupation, allowing many constituencies to participate and make a site their own”.

In his chapter, Peter Graal of Bankside Open Spaces Trust describes how when the time came for the lido to be demolished, the plants were given away to older SE1 residents who had been part of “Bankside’s metamorphosis from a place of pollution and industry to one of leisure and creative pursuit”.

A fascinating diagram reveals where the materials for the lido were sourced: pebbles from Erith, sandals from Bermondsey Street’s Terra Plana and much else besides from Travis Perkins in Redcross Way. At the end of the book a similar chart shows how everything was reused afterwards: the timber went to Climate Camp and two beach huts were donated to BOST whilst other items were sold to fund the travel of the Paris-based EXYZT collective that, along with Sara Muzio, made the whole thing possible.

This book, produced in a limited edition of 600, is a valuable record of a summer of community-building activity in the heart of Bankside that won’t be forgotten for a long time.

JH (inSE1)