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The Springboard in the Pond: An Intimate History of the Swimming Pool (Graham Foundation / MIT Press Series in Contemporary Architectural Discourse) Paperback – February 28, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Graham Foundation / MIT Press Series in Contemporary Architectural Discourse
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (February 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262720329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262720328
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,940,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inspired by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, van Leeuwen has attempted a study of the architectural form that is suburban America's definition and daydream: the swimming pool. While Bachelard's Poetics of Space enchanted scholars and readers by analyzing poetic images of the house, van Leeuwen bandies weighty terminology that proves less than enchanting. By the fifth page, he has offered the neologisms "hydrophobia," "hydrophilia" and "hydro-opportunism" (linking them to the images of the swan, the frog and the penguin, respectively). With its verbal inflation (indoor plumbing becomes "hygienic hydraulica," an aspect of the bourgeois "domestification of water") and hyperbolic treatment of the metaphysics of the afternoon swim, the book falls short of its claim to offer the history of a building type. It is well researched, and full of fascinating tidbits on the swimming pool's formal development and about designers, patrons and users of public and private pools. But interesting and useful information too often gets lost between rhapsodies stretching beyond the book's scope. The section on William Randolph Hearst, a straightforward discussion of various Hearst-related "holes in the ground," from Long Island to Santa Monica, is the most successful part. This volume is the second in a projected set of four on architecture (following Bachelard in attending to the four elements: sky, water, fire and earth, one per volume). Unfortunately, the author's grand ambitions do not fit the humble subject matter; he has produced a book only nominally about swimming pools that was clearly more fun to write than it ever could be to read. 210 illustrations, 28 in color.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Descending from van Leeuwen's towering The Skyward Trend of Thought: The Metaphysics of the American Skyscraper (MIT, 1990. o.p.), this is the second volume of a projected tetralogy on the architecture of the four classical elements?sky, water, fire, and earth. He investigates the modernist synthesis of architecture and water as manifest in a familiar water hole: the private domestic swimming pool. This imaginative work artfully plumbs the history, psychology, and cultural significance of hygienics, costumes, water sports, forms, and purposes and along the way relates pool evolution to attitudes toward bathing and swimming. Pool-crazed greater Los Angeles and Long Island's old-money estates receive pride of place. Van Leeuwen's straightforward architectural analysis, drawing on an unusual variety of sources and illustrations, is offset by less intuitive plunges into the deep waters of love and death in the swimming pool, perverse hydrophobia, and the submerged Medusa complex. Recommended for architectural research collections.?Russell T. Clement, Univ. of Tennessee Lib., Knoxville
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Simulacrum on November 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the second in an anticipated series of four unorthodox books by a Dutch historian on architecture in relation to the classical elements: sky, water, fire and earth. The first volume, about the metaphysics of the American skyscraper, was published in 1988; while the third, which will focus on buildings destroyed by fire, is in preparation. This second volume, which is illustrated by more than 200 drawings, plans and vintage photographs, is a wonderful visual and verbal review of the origin and evolution of the domestic swimming pool, which is, as the author describes it, "the architectural outcome of man's desire to become one with the element of water, privately and free of danger." To swim in a hole in the backyard, he continues, "is a complex and curious activity, one that oscillates between joy and fear, between domination and submission, for the swimmer delivers himself with controlled abandonment to the forces of gravity, resulting in sensations of weight- and timelessness." This is a history of architecture, as exemplified by a single building type; while, at the same time, it is a rich, multi-faceted social history in which the behavior of humans toward water is shown in relation to religion, sex, art, psychology, engineering and architecture. (Copyright by Roy R. Behrens from Ballast Quarterly Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, Autumn 1999.)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dick van Broekhuizen on March 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Oceanomare of all feeling & thoughts connected with the pool, T.A.P. van Leeuwen, a teacher of mine, has written a book about all the different aspects of the swimming pool. TAP van Leeuwen manages to evoke new kinds of interesting emotions concerning water- and he manages to fill the pool with these emotions. After all, the pool, as he himself describes it, has no very interesting shape: it's just a floating boarding or a concrete hole-in-the-ground.
TAP van Leeuwen has made an excellent choice to show as much as possible in different media, all shattered around on the spread: notes next to the text next to pics. The very thorough and beautiful design of the book itself makes this possible- and points back to its archetype, the "Bauen in Frankreich"-book by Sigfried Giedion (a lifelong teacher for van Leeuwen). I liked very much the part about all the fifties-Hollywood-stars, sitting besides or floating atop of the water, in their expensive tweed costumes, afraid of the water and proud of their success (of owning a pool?). Let's all take a dive into the richness of this book, a book definitely not about architecture, only, architecture is the only housing into which these stories have a room.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A clever title and a very clever book. Wide ranging in scope, with many unusual insights. At the present bargain price it is a must have. Makes you think, and not in the usual way you think.
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Format: Hardcover
T.A.P. van Leeuwen, a teacher of mine, has written a book about all the different aspects of the swimming pool. TAP van Leeuwen manages to evoke new kinds of interesting emotions concerning water- and he manages to fill the pool with these emotions. After all, the pool, as he himself describes it, has no very interesting shape: it's just a floating boarding or a concrete hole-in-the-ground.
TAP van Leeuwen has made an excellent choice to show as much as possible in different media, all shattered around on the spread: notes next to the text next to pics. The very thorough and beautiful design of the book itself makes this possible- and points back to its archetype, the "Bauen in Frankreich"-book by Sigfried Giedion (a lifelong teacher for van Leeuwen). I liked very much the part about all the fifties-Hollywood-stars, sitting besides or floating atop of the water, in their expensive tweed costumes, afraid of the water and proud of their success (of owning a pool?). Let's all take a dive into the richness of this book, a book definitely not about architecture, only, architecture is the only housing into which these stories have a room.
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By monsieurpatric on January 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sought it as research in a writing project. A certain arcana is afforded me in this deliberate never obdurate study of pools for swimming.
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The Springboard in the Pond: An Intimate History of the Swimming Pool (Graham Foundation / MIT Press Series in Contemporary Architectural Discourse)
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