Pools that make a Splash
Modern design possibilities are transforming swimming pools into visually stunning and endlessly versatile spaces that lend a whole new dimension to outdoor living.
Words by Natasha Were.
Whether it’s the straight lines and sharp angles of a geometric design, or the softly flowing curves of a more natural-looking pool, 21st century swimming pools are in a very different league to their predictably rectangular, single-function predecessors, and the choice of optional additional features is guaranteed to ramp up the fun factor, regardless of the style.
The most modern pool designs – infinity edges and perimeter overflows – complement the clean lines of contemporary architecture. Infinity edge pools, where water disappears over one concealed edge, work best in sea view locations, where the two bodies of water appear to merge into one another. Its successor, the perimeter overflow design, is undoubtedly the most dramatic, however, even without wide open views. With water vanishing silently over not one, but all four edges, these pools create the illusion of a huge pane of glass sitting, utterly motionless, in the centre of a deck or lawn.
At the other end of the spectrum, pools designed to resemble meandering rivers or natural ponds, with a marked absence of straight edges, and sometimes incorporating boulders or hidden nooks, can be whimsical additions to lush, tropical gardens and homes that blend subtly into their surroundings.
The variety of features that can be added to the basic design transform pools into true recreational areas, adapted to far more than simply swimming: six-inch deep bronzing ledges allow toddlers to splash about and adults to work on their tans, beach entries where the pool deck slips gradually below the surface of the water are ideal for youngsters and those with limited mobility while double deep ends mean that children have a shallow play zone, while still allowing for laps to be swum.
And then there is the multiplicity of add-ons to choose from: fountains and cascading waterfalls can provide both visual interest and a soothing sound effect, as well as potentially hiding a romantic grotto behind a curtain of water. Coupled with an adjacent hot tub these can turn swimming pools into soothing sanctuaries.
For those who prefer the pool to be an extension of the outdoor living space, swim up bars, submerged stools and built-in tables are essential, while well designed landscape lighting, underwater LED lights and pool-side or even in-water fire pits can help extend the visual pleasure – as well as the entertaining time – late into the evening.
Pools need no longer be a single shade of turquoise either: modern pools can be finished in every colour under the sun, from a natural-looking pale green to a reflective black. Pool interiors are still most often finished in plaster – a very durable option – but nowadays textures and pigments can be added to the mix, plus fragments of quartz and granite to give an ocean-like shimmer. For a river-bed effect pools can be lined with lava stones, or for something truly unique, glass tiles laid in countless shades and patterns can create an underwater mosaic.
No matter how dazzling the design or innovative the added features, a pool is worthless if the water is not sparkling clean. Savvy pool owners are increasingly reluctant to store and handle harsh chemicals like chlorine though, and while no other system yet outperforms it, a number of alternative sanitising methods – from salt water systems, which actually generate chlorine from salt through electrolysis, to bromine, ionizers, ozonators and UV filtration – are available, with climate and pool use dictating which is most appropriate.
Whether boldly geometric or gently rounded, a peaceful haven or the social centre of the home, pools have entered a new generation. Often focal points of the home, contemporary pool designs are example of form and function combining to create something that is simultaneously an object of beauty and a multifunctional recreation area.
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