"At a moment where 'all that is solid' seems precarious, Thomas van Leeuwen's "History of the Swimming Pool" is an heroic and timely attempt to theorize an architecture of the liquid."--Rem Koolhaas
Although others have written eloquently on the relationship of water to built form, until now no one has investigated the swimming pool as a quintessentially modern and American space, reflecting America's infatuation with hygiene, skin and recreation. This text looks at the domestic swimming pool and discovers an icon through which to read 20th-century modernism. At one level, the book is a rereading of modern architecture that seeks to alter its story. At another level, it is the story of the origin and evolution of the private swimming pool as a building type and cultural artifact. At yet another level, it is a material philosophy of water. Van Leeuwen explores that human relationship to water from a variety of viewpoints: social, religious, artistic, sexual, psychological, technical, and above all architectural. Throughout the book he weaves a series of analogies to three emblematic animals - frog, swan and penguin - that represent three prevailing human attitudes towards water: hydorphilia, hydrophobia and ambivalence. The book's many illustrations - drawings, plans, and photographs - come from an unusual variety of sources.
The book is the second in a planned tetralogy by the author, with each volume centered on the relationship of architecture to one of the four classical elements.