Paris has found an unexpected use for its streets: Paris Plages (translated Paris Beaches). Since 2006 the city has been closing off streets along the shore of the river Seine and turning them into beaches. There is now a second beach located about a kilometer away on a canal and visitors can travel between the beaches by ferry. This is a great way to soften up these urban corridors and create social, recreational space for people outside during the hot summer months. Click here for more photos and info on the Paris Plages.
There is a similar project in Berlin called Badeschiff : While there is a visual connection to the water, it is too polluted to swim in. Instead, a floating pool allows visitors to come close to the feeling of taking a dip in the River Spree. Hopefully these beaches and floating pools inspire people to think about water quality and how nice it would be to actually use the rivers.
London is considering a similar project, led by Studio Octopi, on the Thames. It looks like they are gaining momentum, having just met their initial fundraising goal via kickstarter. The pools will be filled initially with filtered Thames river water, but the long term goal is to incorporate the moving tidal waters of the river into the pools. A current 10 year project (Thames Tideway Tunnel) will upgrade London’s waste system and prevent sewage from overflowing into the Thames, making this more open and dynamic relationship between the pools and river, a possibility. Cross your fingers.