The first thing I tell myself when looking at a prospective job site is that the pool is unimportant.
That may sound strange coming from one who has spent years of his life in designing and building the finest pools money can buy, but in a very real sense, I think it’s absolutely true: The pool itself means nothing.
What’s important is the site, its prevailing geological conditions, the visual strength and influence of the house or other structures and the natural elements of landscape and physical setting. All of these directly influence the design of the pool – its shape, size, elevations, materials and position on the property.
When all of these elements of the pool’s physical structure come into balance with the surroundings, then the experience of someone entering the area can be utterly transforming: They will draw impressions of beauty, elegance, relaxation, tranquillity and even a distinct connection with nature.
You’re off to a good start simply by recognizing this potential. To maximize it, however, you need to
Good pool design isn't something that happens by chance.
It’s the product of a mental discipline applied to the entire setting, from one end of the yard to the other. It’s the result of an over-arching vision that incorporates the watershape as a desirable component in a whole tapestry of textures, traditions, shapes, surfaces, highlights, spaces, contours and lines that please the eye, gratify the soul and bring a smile to the face of the observer.
Perceiving this integration is often intuitive, but you can tell when it’s been done right. You also can tell when the mark has been missed and can spend minutes or hours (or days) unraveling and considering everything from severe challenges and missed opportunities to lapses in focus or simple errors in taste and judgment. If your head’s in the right place, you’ll probably learn more from the problem pool than you will from the gem.
Putting pool-industry heads in that right place is part of the thoughtful, reflective approach to pool design offered in the Genesis 3 Design School, which has convened three times and has now touched the sensibilities of more than 75 designers and builders. While school is in session, participants are immersed in an ocean of information on design principles, technical issues, presentation techniques and, perhaps most forcefully of all, on attitude and mindset. The basic message: Every pool can be special, appropriate and expressive of the
Helena Arahuete joined the staff of John Lautner’s architectural firm in the early 1960s, at a point where he was turning out some of his most spectacular work. Indeed, Lautner can indisputably be said to have designed some of the most beautiful and unusual homes built in the second half of the 20th Century.
An apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright’s who studied with the master at Taliesen, Lautner was an exponent of the philosophy and discipline known as “Organic Architecture,” an approach Arahuete, now an eminent architect in her own right, has continued to use and refine while running the firm that still bears Lautner’s name.
She is now one of the world’s leading practitioners of Wright’s and Lautner’s approach to creating unique structures that are intricately and intimately tied to their surroundings. She is also so firm a proponent of the integration of watershapes into those architectural forms that in April 2000, she carried her message to the first Genesis 3 Level II Design School, held in Islamorada, Fla. – and welcomed an opportunity to present some of Lautner’s work here by way of defining the place watershapers have at the design table with
Good design isn’t the sole province of any one country: It’s something that happens around the world in response to local flavors and textures and the needs and desires of people who live there.
Most of these watershape markets are absolutely minuscule by comparison to the U.S. market – but in each location you’ll find clients who are just as interested as their American counterparts in commissioning watershapes that reflect high aspirations, suitable affluence and
By David Tisherman
Edge treatments are important to me. They can lead the eye into the water, set up a barrier, break down a barrier. They’re simply too critical to the overall impression made by a watershape to be left to chance.
For the past ten years, I’ve found myself using one edge treatment more and more: a poured-in-place coping that uses colored concrete. I’ve now done it dozens of times, and my clients have always been thrilled by the results.
In effect, I use the concrete to create soft and subtly colored rectangular
Let’s talk about really big boulders – the five- to eight-foot kind that weigh in at two to five tons apiece – and how they should be integrated into watershapes.
The whole process of placing these big boulders begins with the design of the pool and relates to the kind of scale you’re trying to achieve. Big boulders make other features seem small by comparison and can often overwhelm (rather than accent) a design if
When you design and build custom swimming pools for a living, I’d guess you’re always thinking somewhere in the back of your mind about what your own pool would be like if you ever got the chance to build it.
In my case, when I finally did have the opportunity to design and build one for my home, I knew it had to be a complete extension of my own design philosophy, standards of construction and product choices. That was a no-brainer. What surprised me was just how much excitement and pleasure I derived from the process of seeing my own backyard take shape.
I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted going in. I’ve developed strong likes and dislikes through the years, and I knew with good degree of certainty that our pool would have a vanishing edge, an attached spa, interesting lighting and an array of beautiful finish materials.
Even with all that in mind, however, landing on the perfect design that expressed all of those elements wasn’t automatic by any means. As with any custom watershape, each facet of the project required consideration and a weighing of the options.
This forced me to step back and decide what I thought was
By Lew Akins
In many parts of the country, it’s not uncommon to encounter the unexpected when you start digging to make way for a swimming pool or some other watershape. There might be field stone, a rock ledge, a buried outcropping or even hardpan. Depending on the size, depth and extent of these stony intrusions, running into any of them can, as the video linked below suggests, take a homeowner’s budget expectations and throw them right out the window.
And it’s not just rock that can be a hidden issue: Various types of soil can be problematic, as can the groundwater level in the
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It’s a basic and important idea: Quality and beauty can and should be provided across a wide range of pricing levels.
In my work, I design and build many residential and commercial watershapes with budgets well into six figures; I also tackle many projects firmly planted in the five-figure range. No matter the budget, I believe strongly that I owe it to my clients to deliver a watershape of lasting beauty each and every time.
Fact is, quality and artistry often can be achieved with a distinctly uncomplicated program. By bringing a watershape’s design into harmony with the architecture of the home and/or other adjoining structures, it’s often possible to enhance aesthetics and value without dramatically increasing the price tag.
Take the project seen here as an example: Through careful placement and shaping of the vessel, artistic edge treatments and minor elevation changes – none of which added appreciably to the cost – I left my clients with a watershape they love at a price they could
It used to be that competition pools were the sole province of big engineering/construction companies with their substantial assets, impressive inventories of equipment, huge labor forces and established skills in working with low-tolerance plans and specifications.
The arrival on the scene of modular stainless steel pool systems has changed all that – and it’s a good thing, because so many competition and training pools are being built today that there are not enough qualified construction companies of the traditional sort to get around to installing them all.
This boom is a product of both the popularity of aquatic sports and the
Everything about this job was big: the budget, the number of watershapes, the upscale location and, especially, the customer’s expectations.
The owners, Town Realty of Milwaukee, envisioned their five watershapes as the key amenities for a new condominium development in Cocoa Beach, Fla., a signature element that would woo potential buyers who visited the 124-unit vacation complex. To reach that goal, their project team gathered aquatic experts from all over the Sunshine State to create the plans and specifications, supervise the bidding process, oversee construction and
Watershapes come in lots of configurations and sizes, but when you get right down to it, they mostly share two basic materials of construction – concrete and steel – that in combination have the potential to withstand generations of use.
Fashioning these structures is at the heart of what watershapers do: Every-thing else, from the plumbing or the plaster to the tile or the decking, is really secondary. Sure, the pool won’t function without plumbing or look pretty without tile, but it wouldn’t even exist without its skeleton of steel and its concrete flesh.
For all that importance, however, most people tend to give the steel in particular little thought or care. It’s invisible once the gunite is in place, so there’s a tendency even among those who know better to blow it off and save a few bucks by using too little steel or by doing quick, sloppy work. And why should you care? No one will ever see what you’ve done, right?
Actually, given the role that steel plays in the durability and viability of the concrete structure, this should be the last place to
It’s an art form that connects modern craftspeople to those of the distant past.
In fact, the roots of mosaic tiling can be traced to Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C., where temple walls were decorated with simple earthenware fragments. Centuries later, the ancient Greeks decorated their courtyards with large and small pebble mosaics, and sophisticated examples of mosaic work are found later in everything from Turkish mosques to Italian basilicas.
The Romans, however, probably pushed mosaics about as far as any culture could in the first few centuries A.D. They adorned baths, pools, spas, floors and walls of important buildings as well as humbler residences with intricate mosaics made up of ceramic, stone, glass and marble.
Recent years may have seen a revival of this ancient artistic technique, but as can be seen in the accompanying photographs, what many of today’s designers are doing with classic forms is a real step forward – a departure from tradition that has made today’s mosaics a thoroughly modern form of