21st century swimming pools

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ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas, PHOTOGRAPHY Carrick Vision Artesian Pool, Trish Hartley, FGR Architects Clippers Quay,

In these water-conscious times, the design and function of pools are being adapted to ensure their future on the Australian landscape.

Australia enjoys the highest per capita number of pool owners in the world and there are around 20,000 new pools built each year according to the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia (SPASA). But with space at a premium in many backyards, the swimming pool needs to work harder than ever to earn its keep. Manfred Wiesemes, Honorary Board Chairman of SPASA believes that the evolution of the pool is the key to its enduring popularity. “Pools are becoming multi-purpose. They may not be as big these days but they also act as water features and an extension of the general living area,” he says.

Achieving a truly multi-functional pool entails extra planning at the outset. Modern engineering means that almost every site can now incorporate a pool but its design should also complement the style and landscaping of the home; must take into account its situation; and most importantly, reflect the lifestyle of the household. For example, a compact or sloping site could be transformed with a drop-edge pool that creates the illusion of length and extends a view. While a beach-entry pool is a perfect choice for a family with young children.

A pool that doubles as a water feature gives twice the pleasure. Special effect lighting can be combined with fountains or cascades to stunning effect. Even more spectacular is the emerging trend for fire. For example, the EcoSmart™ Tower, a contemporary column with an elevated flame brings drama to the poolside mix.

Modern pools may be sophisticated but they are frequently smaller than the traditional model. This trend is underpinned by Australia’s commitment to conserving natural resources. With the average domestic pool holding between 22,000 and 60,000 litres of water, it is no surprise that saving water is high on the pool industry’s agenda. SPASA recommends reducing up to 95 per cent of evaporation and the need to top up by investing in a pool cover. Covers can be installed with a new-build pool or retrofitted. They save water, help keep the pool clean and cut energy costs by reducing heat loss. A windbreak, such as drought-resistant native trees and shrubs or a fence, can further reduce evaporation.

Another water saver is the Australian-designed MultiCyclone, a compact device featuring centrifugal water filtration that can help cut consumption by up to 7,000 litres of pool water per year, according to manufacturers Waterco Ltd.

Keeping a pool warm enough for year-round swimming used to be expensive but solar heating is becoming more affordable, particularly as it is often possible to add a solar system to an existing filter pump and plumbing. Heat pumps are a further eco-friendly alternative for heating pool water. They are energy-efficient as they extract heat from the air (similar to a reverse cycle air conditioner) and use it to heat the water.

Environmental considerations are driving more than technological innovation as demonstrated in some of the latest pool designs. Remonda Martinez, Executive Manager of Blue Haven Pools, has seen a big increase in demand for plunge pools. “They have become the all-year-round waterhole. They cost less and they’re easier to heat. Not everybody wants to do laps, this is somewhere to chill and have champagne,” she says.

The concept of the twenty-first century waterhole has been interpreted quite literally by some pool-owners. “There has been a really big push towards free-form pools with curvy natural shapes. These are intimate settings and play areas,” explains Martinez. She says man-made rockery and tropical landscaping are often used to complement organic shaped pools. It is a bonus that free-form pools generally have more efficient water circulation, which reduces the energy needed for filtration.

Those with limited space would do well to consider a swim spa. Possibly the hardest working type of pool, spas are flexible and often portable. Continuous swimming is now possible with or without hydrotherapy jets, depending on the choice of spa. Those who seek pure pleasure in leisure will be inspired by Blue Haven’s spas incorporating built-in pop-up TV screens and iPod cradles.

Whether your pool represents an opportunity for exercise, play or relaxation, it seems that the Australian swimming pool is here to stay. As Manfred Wiesemes reflects: “Most kids learn to swim in a backyard pool. They are just part of our way of life.”

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This article by Persephone Nicholas featured in Issue 001 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.
 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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