In this article we consider some of the most amazing swimming pools in the world and the inspiration they could give you for your own pool design.
Surely all a swimming pool has to be is a contained body of clean water that you can swim in?
Well, perhaps it would be nice if your pool were also a place where your friends and family could gather to relax; a focus for entertaining perhaps?
Some people might want a pool that was a little bit different. They might want a pool that added value to their house; perhaps a pool that made ‘a statement’.
Pools are places to swim and exercise and entertain but they can also be places of excitement, fun and fantasy. There is something luxurious and hedonistic about a swimming pool and around the world, either with the help of big budgets or expansive imaginations, people have indulged themselves and created pools that have the ‘wow’ factor.
Freeform and natural pools have been popular for a long time. Seemingly random curves and forms, boulders and planting around the pool edge, perhaps a waterfall or even a man made beach; all these things have been used to imitate a natural swimming lagoon.
But the world’s most amazing natural swimming pool has had plenty of influence too.
The Devil’s Pool is in Africa on the borders of Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is a naturally occurring infinity pool at the top of the Victoria Falls.
Between September and December, when the water level is low enough, it is possible to swim right up to the edge of the falls in a pool contained by a rock lip that the Zambezi River flows over. Swim to the edge of the pool and you look down the height of the falls; 108 meters to the water below.
Due to the colour of the rock the Devil’s Pool is a black pool; a fad that has come and gone in pool building, but the infinity edge and the drama of the sheer height of the pool are influences that carry on.
Hotels and swimming pools seem to be a natural match and, of course, every luxury hotel tries to outdo the rest.
In Vancouver there is a hotel with a glass-bottomed swimming pool that extends out above the entrance lobby and reaches the other side of the street. Look up as you enter the hotel and you’ll see people swimming above you.
Taking the lift up to the pool is a fairly common hotel experience but the Gallery Evason hotel in Singapore has a glass-walled pool balanced on top of an outside stairwell and at the Four Seasons in Bali you have to cross a rope bridge if you want to use the hotel pool, which is 50 feet above the jungle floor.
In Dallas you can take the lift in the Hotel Joule up to the 10th floor to use the pool. Walking down the wide steps into the warm water you might notice that the far end of the pool is made of glass, perhaps so that you can clearly see that the pool projects 8 feet out from the side of the building.
Swimming in the sky is not the exclusive preserve of the hotel guest. There are roof top pools that adorn more than one Manhattan apartment, a private house in Cape Town has a lap pool which is sunk into the cliff at one end and projects out over Camps Bay at the other and the Villa Dall’Ava has a lap pool on the roof that offers spectacular views over almost the whole of Paris.
Infinity pools have become enormously popular and with good reason.
Also called ‘negative edge’ pools they produce the visual effect of water extending to the horizon by allowing the pool water to flow over the pool edge and be captured in a sunken gully below.
They are perhaps best suited to locations where there is a particularly dramatic view or the pool waters appear to be one with the ocean but they always provide a stunning, clean and modern visual effect. Having said that, the first recorded infinity pool was built at the palace of Versailles in the 17th century.
Bigger isn’t always better but it can certainly be impressive.
The world’s biggest swimming pool is 3,324 feet long (an Olympic pool is 150 feet long) and is 115 feet at the deep end. The surface area of the pool is just less than 20 acres and it holds 66 million gallons of water. The San Alfonso del Mar pool is in Chile and uses water pumped from the Pacific that is filtered and treated before being fed into the pool.
Admittedly this record-breaking pool took five years to build at a cost of £1billion and costs £2million a year to maintain.
The world’s largest covered pool is in Miyazaki in Japan and is a mere 984 feet long, but it does have it’s own artificial volcano that erupts every 15 minutes.
Probably the biggest ‘private’ pool in the world, and certainly the most photographed, is the Neptune Pool, which was built in the 1930’s for William Randolph Hearst. In order to give it a stylish, classical feel, Hearst bought and imported the façade of an actual Roman temple and an extensive collection of genuine Roman statues.
The floor of the Neptune Pool has an amazing mosaic pattern but the pool has no cover, which is perhaps why he also built the indoor Roman Pool.
Hearst expressed himself by the sheer scale of his two pools but there are other ways of self-expression.
Guitar shaped pools are strangely popular the world over but particularly in the USA. Surprisingly, Elvis’s pool in Graceland wasn’t in the shape of a guitar but, of course, Liberace had a pool in the shape of a grand piano complete with mosaic black and white keys.
Opposite Graceland at the Heartbreak Hotel, the pool is heart shaped and there are pools in the shape of Texas and Alabama, not surprisingly these two are in Texas and Alabama.
Your perfect pool won’t be any of these but they do serve a point.
There is something liberating and pleasurable about swimming in your own pool, buoyed up by the water and able to twist, turn and dive in any direction that you want.
If you are planning or designing your own pool then keep some of that feeling in mind. Yes, there will be limitations of budget and practicality but sometimes working within those boundaries can drive people to more creative solutions and dramatic results.
Pools have been built in basements and under thatched barns. Every project has its challenges but with a little imagination and the right professional help, your perfect pool is perfectly possible.
If you would like some specific advice then we can help you find a pool professional with the appropriate skills and experience right for you. There is a link at the top of this article that can get that process started.
We hope this article has been of use to you.
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