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Priced out of the Piscine: the Piscine Molitor reopens in Paris

27 May 2014

The newly renovated swimming pool, Piscine Molitor, has been making waves in Paris since its grand reopening last week. The Art Deco pool, originally designed by architect Lucien Pollet in 1929, was closed in 1989 and became a site for graffiti artists and ravers in the 1980s. It was classified as a historical monument in 1990.

The City of Paris entered into a public-private partnership to restore the pool, which now also boasts a health club and five star hotel. Questions are being asked, however, about the success of this project, which is more of a reconstruction than a restoration, with only part of Lucien Pollet’s front façade intact and the rest of the building totally rebuilt. Architect and blogger, Jérôme-Olivier Delb, asks ‘what’s the point in classing something a historical monument if money can buy, destroy and reconstruct everything?’

The pool’s pricing is a bone of contention. Hotel guests and members of the exclusive new health club (€3300 annual membership) can access the pool, but the exorbitant entrance fee has priced most Parisians out of it. A day ticket costs €180, whereas a swim in one of Paris’s other Art Deco municipal pools costs under €5.

The Piscine Molitor is one of Paris’s many Art Deco buildings to be classified as a historical monument in the 1980s or 1990s. Other examples of recent renovations include Piscine Pailleron, another mosaic-decorated swimming pool designed by Lucien Pollet (originally opened in 1933, renovated from 2004–6) and the Le Louxor, a neo-Egyptian style cinema designed by architect Henri Zipcy in 1921, which reopened last year. While these Art Deco gems remain accessible, the Piscine Molitor appears to be pitching to a more monied international crowd.