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
Back in 1987 and particularly in California and Florida, the surfacing industry found itself in the middle of an unfortunate wave of plaster failures. Some people blamed the material, others blamed application techniques – and traces of the debate continue to this day.
The situation was truly desperate in some areas, so much so that it drove many plasterers to seek new materials and techniques – anything to escape the cycle of negativity. Our firm in San Diego, for example, moved early and became the first in our county to apply exposed-aggregate finishes. Today, more than 80% of
Not every upscale pool contractor has to be working with his or her own designs to be successful in building beautiful pools. Our company, for instance, has established its reputation by excelling at making the ideas of others come to life.
Examples of this can be found in the work we did at One Ford Road, a development where we were asked to follow through on designs prepared by three of Southern California’s best-known landscape architects. We’ve found here and elsewhere that when you work with highly creative people (including those who designed the pools, spas and waterfeatures pictured on these pages), the process can be truly rewarding, exciting and even
By Brian Van Bower
Lately I’ve been finding myself in what seems like a fairly unique position: On the one hand, I work as a design consultant for architects and as a designer for high-end customers; on the other, I work as a builder executing the designs that customers and their architects choose.
In this dual capacity, I’ve been able to gather a tremendous amount of input from construction clients and transfer it in one form or another as a consultant. I also have had the opportunity of seeing how decisions made in the design process play out during the construction process.
Seeing both sides has led me to certain conclusions, chief among them
This project is all about making connections – connections between the inside of a home and the outdoors; between surrounding wide-open spaces and an intimate backyard; between the colors of the hillsides and the materials used in crafting the watershape; between the clients’ desire for recreation and their passion for beauty; and between the beauty of nature and the modern, sculptural lines of the design.
If you’ve followed my “Details” column in WaterShapes in recent months, you’ve seen many of the components that have been incorporated into this particular
By David Tisherman
I’m amazed at how few watershapers keep the size and shape of the average body in mind or consider the science of ergonomics when they design projects for their clients. Just think about how much more we can do to increase their comfort and enjoyment by doing so, particularly when it comes to custom concrete spas.
Take a look at the average spa attached to the typical pool: On a great many of them, you’ll see a cantilevered deck around the edges.
From the perspective of
Everyone is concerned these days about electricity, gasoline and natural gas and all other forms of energy. What is amazing is that, despite this surge in interest, very few people have considered ways in which swimming pools can be built to reduce the energy required to heat them – and by substantial amounts.
This dearth of energy consciousness has nothing to do with the manufacturers of heating equipment. It’s fair to say that most heater manufacturers – whether they pursue combustion heating with fossil fuel, compression heating with heat pumps or passive heating with radiant solar, absorbent solar panels or solar covers – all have optimized their own products and made them remarkably energy-efficient.
The same is true of recirculation systems: Pumps of all kinds are optimized to very high efficiencies, and the pool and spa industry has made positive improvements in acknowledging the necessities of hydraulic efficiency (although it’s fair to say we
By David Tisherman
As with every other step along the path of true quality in watershape construction, a good start-up is critical – a key transitional step requiring supervision, teamwork and passion for the work.
This is the point where a watershaper’s vision becomes reality, where construction becomes maintenance and where the clients’ dream is finally realized. It’s another important detail, and getting it right requires complete trust and wide-open lines of communication among builder, service technician and homeowner.
That puts a premium on finding the best possible person in your area to take on the responsibility. In my case, I consider myself very fortunate to work with a
The consumer’s appetite for beautiful water and creative watershape design has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years – and expectations, it seems, are rising right along with the hunger for exceptional details and impressions.
Perimeter-overflow pools and basins are what an increasing number of consumers are after these days, and there’s special interest in what are called “wet-edge applications,” where the water rises to deck level and flows into a channel slot at the back edge of the coping. It’s an amazing look – and harder to
By David Tisherman
Some details seem simpler than they really are. A case in point is the one I’ll describe this time – a detail I call a thermal ledge.
In one sense, it’s really just a large a big bench located a few inches below the water’s surface, but in terms of what it is structurally and what it does to increase enjoyment of a pool, it’s something truly special.
The ledge pictured here is visually interesting in the way its stone surface picks up the rockwork used throughout the deck and the barbecue area and within the pool itself. As important, it provides the homeowners and their guests
When it’s completed sometime in mid-2002, the Mesa Indoor Aquatic Center will be among the premier U.S. facilities for competitive swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and synchronized diving. Once it’s up and running, MIAC will be the country’s largest indoor competitive swimming facility owned and operated by a municipality; just as certainly, it will also act for years to come as host to countless world-class aquatic competitions.
A project like this
It’s something we in the business overlook all too often: Swimming pools, kids and summertime go together.
That’s why pools have been so enduringly popular, even at a time when watershapers seem to be focusing more than ever before on principles of design and how their work can be artfully integrated into the landscape.
I came to building pools from an extensive background in building man-made rocks for theme parks, which has colored my perspective on the way my pools are used. I’ve also been swimming in backyard pools since I was a kid, and I’ve built all sorts of rockwork designs for all sorts of
By Mike Farley
For the most part, the equipment sets that power pool and spa systems are placed outdoors in spaces near their watershapes. Maybe that’s behind a gate along the side of the house, or behind some shrubs or a wall in a corner of the yard. Wherever they go, these equipment clusters should be positioned so that the noise made by various motors and pumps isn’t so pronounced that it