Victorian Pool of the Year
Located in the hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula, this award-winning swimming pool and spa were part of a residential project that included the renovation of an existing home. Designed by Paul Bangay and Ilario Cortese Architects, with the construction works managed by Riley Hazen Projects, and built by Aloha Pools, the project was completed in time for the summer of 2011.
The swimming pool and spa were constructed on a private 8-acre property, with the existing house surrounded by a mature native garden setting. The proposed house renovations and pool construction were designed to further augment the traditional stylings of the existing home and gardens, as well as enhance the view out over sprawling vineyards and the southern hinterlands of the Mornington Peninsula.
The client wanted a large pool that could be used for both exercise and social swimming, but with a strong visual impact. It was important that the pool enhance the already stunning outlook, in no way distracting or blocking the view from the home out over the vineyards. The client also requested that the swimming pool water have an ‘eddying river’ effect, similar to something they’d seen at a luxury wilderness cottage in New Zealand. The strategically placed in-floor jets, when in action, contribute towards this swirling water effect, but not to the extent required. Aloha Pools’ solution was to install three independent outlets in the eastern wall of the pool, angled upwards towards the surface, which created the desired look.
The property had a sprawling homestead, with high-pitched ceilings, large stone chimneys and wide verandahs. The proposed construction works involved the addition of a new wing to the house, as well as the construction of the swimming pool and spa. The completed project was intended to look like one harmonious design, a natural continuance of the home’s stately heritage.
Building the pool at the same height as the existing terrace helped to create this illusion. The sloping nature of the property created an opportunity to build an ‘infinity’ edge along the far side of the pool.
Constructed within a centred offset, the spa is framed by the bi-fold doors of the home, creating a feeling of symmetry between the house and the pool. The arc of the ornamental handrails provides another bridge between the two settings, doubling as a useful gripping rail as the swimmer descends the wide steps into the pool.
The dark water colour produced by the bluestone brilliantly reflects the changing mood of the seasons - in summer the water is a deep inviting blue while in the cooler months the dark waters reflect the stormy patterns of the sky.
The swimming pool excavation cut into the slope of the property so that one side of the pool would be level with the existing terrace, with the opposite side of the pool built above ground level. The first issue with the construction was that the property was classified as Class H soil type. This means that it was a highly reactive site, which can experience high ground movement from moisture changes. To ensure the pool shell would remain in a stable geological profile, the construction had to comply with eight special requirements for Class H sites, as set out by the structural engineers, dealing with additional reinforcement requirements and proper drainage.
Another challenge was separating the spa from the pool internally to keep the warmed spa water from flowing directly into the pool. The spa is separated from the pool by a glass weir, so the spa’s concrete shell had to be specially engineered to allow for an extra layer of steel reinforcing. A 40 x 90 mm rebate was constructed in the concrete shell so that a 15 mm toughened and heat-soaked panel could be installed to act as this dividing levee. This seemingly simple piece of glass was anchored with a non-shrink grout and effectively keeps the hot water in the spa from spilling out into the main body of pool water.
The swimming pool and spa shells were constructed with a square floor-to-wall join instead of the curved radius used in standard pool construction. The purpose of this detail was to accommodate the proposed large-format bluestone tiles, which cannot curve up the walls of the pool, but instead must abut straight up to the joins. Large-format tiles also require a high degree of accuracy and precision in the building and finishing of the pool, as the tiles must sit perfectly flat, with no discernible rises or dips across the surface of the pool walls or floor.
The pool is surrounded by gently sloping hills and lush vineyards - a view the clients didn’t want interrupted by the necessary pool equipment. As such, the proposed equipment location was over 50 m from the pool structure, concealed within the distant tree line. This meant that the pipe size had to be increased to 80 mm to offset friction losses and careful planning was required to ensure that the pipework would cause no conflict with the proposed footings.
The pool and spa have a Paramount PCC 2000 In-floor Cleaning System. The PCC 2000 is a programmable cleaning and circulation system that cleans the swimming pool automatically. Each system is engineered using state-of-the-art CAD technology and can be custom designed for concrete pools and spas of any shape or size.
Pop-up nozzles built into the floor of the swimming pool use high-pressure streams of water to push dirt, sand, leaves and debris from every corner of the pool towards the MDX drain, where it is removed into a collection basket or canister for ease of disposal. The PCC 2000 also saves on ongoing maintenance costs, as it returns heated, chemically treated water to the floor of the swimming pool. When the heat and chemicals are introduced at the bottom of the pool, they are thoroughly mixed long before they reach the surface. This results in lower heat and chemical losses and lower costs over the lifetime of the pool.
A solar heating system was installed to allow the pool to be heated using the sun’s natural energy during the warmer months, with a back-up gas heater for heating the spa. The pool is also heated with geothermal heating, so when solar heating is not available, heat is harvested from the ground.
Fourteen Spa Electrics LED Niche lights were used in the construction of this pool. Beyond making it easier to navigate in the dark, lighting also creates an opportunity to add interesting accents to the pool, turning the pool into a 24-hour feature.
The light fittings in this pool have been placed facing away from direct sight lines (to avoid glare) and spaced evenly along both the bench seat and the lower pool wall to produce the best distribution of light. While LED lights tend to cost more initially, the globes do not need to be changed as frequently and they produce a brighter light, making them better suited to a pool with a darker interior.
The entire pool, spa and exposed wet-edge face of the pool were fully tiled using large-format bluestone tiles. Made from volcanic stones that have formed and hardened over millions of years, bluestone is extremely dense and hard wearing, enabling it to be used in the most vigorous of applications. While bluestone pavers are ‘on trend’ at the moment for pool coping, they are not often used to fully tile a pool interior; however, the extensive use of this timeless material aided in the integration of the pool with the existing setting.
The swimming pool was built with an infinity edge along the length of the pool. Also referred to as a wet-edge pool, infinity pools are designed with a spillover edge to produce a visual effect of water extending to or vanishing over the horizon. This spillover edge allows water to flow over the side of the pool and down the exposed bluestone face into a catchment gutter and concealed balance tank. As the exposed face of the pool is over 1.2 m above ground level, this design feature has the added benefit of acting as the required safety barrier on the far side of the pool.
This swimming pool is a study in contrasts. Its overall size and colouring makes a bold impact, yet the design is simple and understated. The traditional styling of the pool exudes old-world charm, but the sleek wet edge and low-maintenance equipment use the latest state-of-the-art technology.
This pool was recently awarded ‘Pool of the Year’ at the 2013 Swimming Pool & Spa Association Awards of Victoria, the only major award presented for a specific project by a pool builder. In addition, this project also received Gold: Best Residential Concrete Pool Over $100K and Highly Commended: Best Pool & Spa Combination.
Pool size: 5.0 x 16.0 m with the spa at 2.75 x 3.0 m
Pool shell: Reinforced concrete
Lighting: Spa Electrics LED Niche Lights
Pool cleaning: Paramount PCC 2000 In-floor Cleaning System
Heating: Hurlcon Viron 550 Gas Heater and Sunbather 80 m2 Solar Heating System
Other: Auto Refill Valve and AquaLink PDA4 Control System
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