Dec 31, 2015 Christina Zhou
Summers spent cleaning the kidney-shaped pool with a creepy crawly are long gone.
Home owners are taking the plunge with improved technology, bringing in a new wave of swimming pools that are self-cleaning and remotely controlled.
Using home automation, a home owner can time lights, fireplaces and sound systems to flick on when they get home.
The humble backyard pool has come a long way – and these days, you’ll often find an Infinity pool like this one. Photo: Darrian Traynor
And now, they can have a spa bubbling away at the ready after a long day at work. The only the thing it can’t do is arrange to have the champagne on ice beside the spa.
Anthony Polkinghorne, pool business manager of Integrated Pools, says more people are trying to recreate their holiday experience at home by naming features they have seen on their trip as a part of their brief.
Shrinking land sizes mean designers also need to be more creative about how they use space.
Shrinking land sizes have prompted pool designers to become more innovative in their work. Photo: Darrian Traynor
Mr Polkinghorne says his company is building pools on top of cellars and basements, and are working on a design which considers building a pool out from the first storey of the home, over a driveway.
“We’re doing a lot more structural works – building pools where we normally wouldn’t be consider building pools – for example, down the side of a house between two homes,” he says.
“Normally we wouldn’t be able to dig there, but now we’re doing a lot more protection works on surrounding properties and putting pools in.
This pool in Sydney’s northern beaches sits on the edge of a steep cliff to maximise views. Photo: Pool by Peter Glass & Associates
“People are really trying to utilise every bit of space they’ve got.”
Sydney-based Peter Glass of landscape architects and pool designers Peter Glass & Associates says some of their pools cantilever over a cliff to make use of land that can’t otherwise be accessed.
Having a glass wall at the end of the pool means you can look out straight out to the ocean or over a cliff, “and that can be quite exciting”, he says.
Pools that cantilever over a cliff can make use of land that can’t otherwise be accessed. Photo: Pool by Peter Glass & Associates
Tighter pool regulations means designers also have to be more innovative about their approach.
Brendan Watkins, chief executive at Swimming Pool & Spa Association of Victoria, says one significant change since 2010 was the introduction of four-sided safety barriers around the pool.
The fence must be at least 1.2-metres high with a door that is self-closing and self-latching, and opens away from the pool.
Melbourne landscape designer Jack Merlo says rather than having fencing all around, glazing on the side of the house might also form a length of the boundary.
“With pool fencing regulations tightening up more and more, it’s become harder and harder to have a seamless integration between the house, the pool and the landscaping,” he says.
The traditional blue pool in the backyard is also evaporating away.
Since pools aren’t used regularly throughout the year, Mr Merlo says it should be designed as an ornamental feature that can enjoyed year-round.
Putting an acrylic viewing window in a theatre or gym adjoining the pool is one way of integrating it into the living space.
Abutting it to the house creates the feeling that water is just outside, and draws the eye from indoors to outdoors.
Pools are also becoming increasingly low maintenance with automatic chlorination systems and computerised in-floor systems.
Solar heating and rainwater tanks have made pools energy-efficient and environment-conscious.
Mr Glass says his clients are becoming more open to options that are more sustainable.
He says equipment is becoming more sophisticated, requiring lower energy use, and the trend is towards lower chemical use to sanitise the water.
“You can turn the heater on in your spa 20 minutes before you get home,” Mr Glass says, “and you can have it all fine-tuned so you can have the filters and everything come on as they’re needed, rather than just being on full-time.”