Project description

Dookin In Porty (DIP) is a centre for the outdoor swimming community in and around Edinburgh. Dookin is a Scots word meaning to dip, plunge or bathe whilst Porty is the locals' nickname for Portobello, the location of the centre. 

The centre provides an informal, welcoming atmosphere with facilities to support existing outdoor swimmers in their practices as well as to help and encourage beginners. It retains the natural, unrestricted essence of the activity with infrastructure to facilitate rather than replace outdoor swimming in Portobello. 

Whilst there is a strong online community of outdoor swimmers, there are few physical spaces for outdoor swimmers to come together, share advice, gain confidence, and find others to swim with. Dookin In Porty provides this space with the aim of connecting people with the nature on their doorstep and with one another. 

Portobello Old Parish Church

Portobello, known locally as Porty, is a coastal suburb of Edinburgh located four miles east of the city centre. 

The chosen building for the project is Portobello Old Parish Church, located on Bellfield Street in Portobello. This is perpendicular on one side to the High Street and on the other to the Promenade and Beach. The walk to the sea is only a few minutes. It is also in close proximity to Portobello Swim Centre, a meeting place for outdoor swimmers, as well as to numerous bus stops.

The original church was built between 1808 and 1810 with an extension adjoined to the south-west corner in 1964. The site's location, unique combination of old and new buildings, and situation within an enclosed garden make it ideal for the proposed use. 


Site Plan of Portobello Old Parish Church
Site Plan
Photo of Portobello Old Parish Church
Portobello Old Parish Church
Photo of the 1960s Extension Adjoined to Portobello Old Parish Church
Portobello Old Parish Church Extension

The facilities can be spilt into three categories: swimming, supporting, and social.

The swimming facilities include an outdoor pool, counter-current pool and thermal pool to help swimmers develop their skills and confidence, and provides an alternative on days where it is unsafe to swim in the sea.

The supporting spaces include changing areas, lockers, and showers as well as an advice area, and an equipment shop and loan. These provide resources and assistance to improve outdoor swimmers' knowledge and safety with the aim of improving accessibility for beginners. 

Lastly, the cafe creates a social space for outdoor swimmers. It is also open to the wider community to encourage interactions between swimmers and locals, including those curious about joining the activity.

Axonometric Zoning Plan of Proposed Facilities Across Ground, First and Second Floors expand
Axonometric Zoning Plan
Icons and Descriptions of Proposed Facilities in Outdoor Swimming Centre
Ground Floor Plan expand
Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan expand
First Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan expand
Second Floor Plan
Sections AA and BB expand
Sections AA and BB
Sections CC and DD expand
Sections CC and DD
Front (East) Elevation expand
Front (East) Elevation
Main Space & Details

The main space is spread across the ground and first floor of the original church. It includes the thermal pool, circulation core, viewing platforms and cafe seating. 

The three dimensional model to the right shows the two viewing platforms which extend out into the thermal pool and void above. The design of the platforms references wooden piers which project from the shore into the sea. Swimmers can walk out onto the lower platform or sit and dangle their legs in the water. The upper platform provides a viewpoint for cafe users to look down onto the pool below, connecting the two spaces.

The upper platform also contains a waterfall system to evoke the sounds and atmosphere of the natural environments that outdoor swimmers usually swim in. The base of the lower platform contains the pump whilst the angled corten steel partition, connecting the upper and lower platforms, conceals the pipe that supplies the waterfall. 

Viewing Platform Detail Model
Viewing Platform Detail Model
Viewing Platform Exploded Axonometric expand
Viewing Platform Exploded Axonometric
Rendered Section AA with Material Annotation expand
Rendered Section AA
Visual of Indoor Thermal Pool with Viewing Platforms, Indoor Waterfall and View to Outdoor Pool expand
Thermal Pool with Viewing Platforms and Indoor Waterfall
Visual of Cafe with a View to Equipment Shop & Loan expand
Cafe with a View to Equipment Shop & Loan
View of Outdoor Swimming Pool with Bridge to Access Main Entrance expand
Outdoor Swimming Pool and Bridge to Main Entrance
Dookin In Porty - Video Presentation