Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool

The entrance portal of the #HaroldHoltPool, a bit like going into a mouth – but it was all about the movement into and through – so up the ramp, along the building, into the aliens head, out onto the upper level inside where you could see the pool below, then into the change rooms and down to pool level. Maybe that’s why it was kind of impressive as a kid. Brutalism burst into Melbourne with this design in 1969, and its still one of the best. By a young #DarylJackson and a much older #KevinBorland, 29 and 40 respectively when they got the job in 1966. The main fronts havnt changed much, but it’s been extended twice to the north, losing transparency. And the tree that the revamp was built around died I guess so there’s a young one there now.

And yes Malvern Council named it after a Prime Minister who drowned, but he was the local member and they were building it, and I’m sure they were all white male liberal party types, so they named it after him.

The sunny pics are 1970 @statelibraryvic

Here, the main corner has an expressed stair – up to the ladies change room, where they get a slot of pink glass, letting light in but no views out. There’s also a huge amount of glass on the south wall, great views into and out of the pool, for all to see, which is nice. The pool originally had a timber truss roof, which rotted, and was replaced in the 80s with a steel tube one – very far from the original effect unfortunately.

This is the new entrance to the #HaroldHoltPool, created in 2006, which unfortunately means you can’t experience the ramp entrance as intended, just admire it from a distance. When I was at the @nationaltrustvic in the mid 2000s we heard something was planned, and when I asked the recreation dept about it, they said ‘Everybody hates it it’s old and dark, we want to demolish it’, they even had a user poll to prove it – fortunately they didn’t have the funds, only enough for renovations. It wasn’t #heritagelisted, and at first @peddlethorparchitects were going to stick a two storey glass box here with an external lift – jazzy but a bad idea. I pointed out the lift would fit inside, and they said ‘o yes’….and then quite surprisingly a residents group emerged, said they loved it, don’t change a thing ! Then it was listed by #heritagevictoria, they got a permit for big extensions, but the lift is inside.

Brutalist concrete sort of gets extra interesting in the rain – a spout at the #HaroldHoltPool, part of the women’s change room stair (inside). Note the ‘board marked’ concrete, and how the volume is actually hovering above the ground. I also noted that the concrete has either worn off at many edges, or perhaps didn’t quite fill the moulds, leaving rough bits – which would be fine, but in some places, the #reinforcing is showing, and rusting, which isn’t good. The place was hugely extended in 2010, but they seem to have skimped on repairing the original.

The #divingtower at the #HaroldHoltPool, quite bold and sculptural, and all blocked off, I don’t suppose it would ever be used again except perhaps by training divers ? But that’s ok, we can just admire it. Designed by #DarylJackson and #KevinBorland, and built 1968-69. Great shot of it on opening day March 1969 in @stonningtonlibraries collection. 2nd photo Heritage Victoria 2006, looks like blocked even then.

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