A new use has been found for an abandoned Auckland building site - as a swimming pool.

A beach party was held at Soho Square in Ponsonby after the stalled $250 million property development raised the ire of local artists.

They discussed how they could voice their anger about the huge hole that has been left after Marlin Group's plans for a mixed-use shopping/apartment/office precinct on the site of the former DYC Vinegar factory came to grief.

Buildings were demolished on the 1.3ha site and a hole was dug, but work has been at a standstill for months.

The artists wanted to voice their disgust at what has become a canyon as wide as a city block and with a huge pool of water at the bottom of it.

Instead of complaining, they decided to turn their protest into more of a positive event and celebrate their presence in the deep hole built as underground parking.

Graffiti on a wall at the project reads "I wish this was a swimming pool" and that was partly the inspiration for the artists deciding to hold the weekend event at the site, which they have renamed Sohole.

"The beach party in the Sohole foundation pit lasted exactly 90 minutes and involved 70 people at its peak," said one member of the group yesterday.

Derek Tearne, a resident in the area, said he had stumbled across "an amazing performance art thing in an abandoned building site at the end of our street at the weekend".

"As far as I can tell some kind of underground art movement is responsible for this extremely fun, completely harmless and jolly civilised event," he said.

He took pictures of people boating, holding fishing rods, lounging under umbrellas, floating inflatable plastic animals, walking dogs, sitting in beach chairs and swimming in the hole.

Jeremy Wheelan of IGNITE Architects, which designed Soho for Marlin, said the project was subject to "funding options" and these were being worked through.

"It's good, it's useful," he said when told of the project's new use as a swimming pool.