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Pools Of Distinction

pool2Swimming pools are moving away from conventional rectangular shaped design to jaw-dropping futuristic styles write FUNKE OSAE-BROWN

The sky seems to be the limit for the latest jaw-dropping swimming pool design in this contemporary era. More than ever before modern swimming pools bow daringly cling onto the side of hotel towers some others perch dizzily atop high-rise balconies or cantilevering vertiginously off rooftops. These new designs architects say cost a lot of money.

New designs of swimming pools in some hotels abroad and homes of individuals who can afford them have wow-factor features such as transparent sides and bottoms. They are a far cry from the familiar rectangular styled blue coloured pools situated at back of the suburban backyard.

These newly styled pools are creative and innovative, they are designs that the potential pool owner may not have thought of.  Elements such as space, site, hardware and accessibility all impact on the final design. It is the aim of the modern architect to work together with those who can afford such luxury to create a first class quality swimming pool.

These new swimming pools are making their way to Mumbai in India. There is a proposed 30 storey Parinee ISM designed by Hong Kong-based James Law Cybertecture. The construction begins soon and it is expected to be completed in three years. In addition, there are images depicting a series of 64 fantastical, infinity edge pools, each 1.5m wide x 8m long x 1m deep, located on balconies that rise up a futuristic 140m tall residential tower.

These inspiration pools are the ripple effect generated by water droplets and they extend right to the balcony edge which makes it possible to imagine a swimmer floating right over. For these futuristic designs, the depth of water, thickness and height of the glass provides safety similar to a typical balcony. The glass edge appears to cantilever out from the deck and it would have to withstand the load of the water plus the live load of someone swimming and bumping up to it.

But many people will wonder if pools such as these are not only do-able in theory. “How practical can they be,” asks Seun Onalaja.  Practically, it requires the input of a structural engineer and at an exorbitant cost.

Bisi Olumide, an architect says futurists designs are products of the imagination of the designer.  She says that building on balconies like the Indian project will be tricky in Nigeria due to the kind of buildings obtainable in Nigeria.

Such designs are not practicable in Nigeria because you have to consider so many factors like monitoring, cleaning amongst others.  In addition, the low rise buildings we have in Nigeria don’t support that kind of designs. Countries where they are practicable have additional supports for such infrastructure.”

In addition, safety and lack of privacy could be issue. But, with enough money, anything is possible. A structural engineer say a better alternative to glass at the edge of the pool is acrylic in a thickness of 80 mm to 100mm.

“Acrylic can be use for the edges of pool,” says Dada Akanmu, an architect to withstand impact of the water load whereas an engineer can only design glass panels to lower the breakage possibility, not eliminate it altogether. If glass fails, it fails instantly and catastrophically.”

Akanmu says futuristic designed pools could be tricky to maintain especially the safety barrier between the inside living areas and the outside deck.  But he explains that an a glazed doorway will have to perform the role of a pool fence, with self-closing doors and latches above 1500mm to prevent an unaccompanied child gaining access to the area. But for most futuristic architect, the weight of the pool is not so much an issue as there is a concrete to hold the enormous weight of water.

However the practicality of trying to contain the water from cascading down the building caused by high winds and people splashing perhaps makes such design silly. There can be problems with these observes Olumide unless a retaining barrier is extended up to a safe level above the water. “Better still, the water overflow can be controlled by having a lower trough to stop it cascading to the balcony below. Pool by the balcony is a wild architectural dream that must be made practicable by engineering practicalities.”

Be that as it may, countries like Singapore are already embracing the idea of futuristic pools. For instance a breath-taking infinity edge pool with a wide catchment is already in existence. It is situated on the top of the 55 storey Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. The recently-completed, 150m pool is located on a platform that overhangs the building’s northern tower by 67 metres. It overlooks the top of the city’s skyscrapers. In Melbourne’s Adelphi hotel is the first to adopt this kind of design with its 400mm thick, laminated glass-bottom lap pool jutting out nine storeys above Flinders Lane, but it’s in Queensland where some of the most breathtaking pools can be found.

Another sky-high, look-at-me pool is located on the 24th floor of Holiday Inn’s Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao. The deep end of this 30m pool projects out from the building and there’s nothing but a toughened glass base between it and the pedestrians way down below. Away from the urban jungle and in an actual jungle, one real cliff hanger pool can be found at Bali’s Ubud Hanging Gardens resort. Two-level, curvaceous and with infinity edges, it overlooks a deep ravine of green.

With designs such as this, swimming in the clouds is no longer a fairytale.  It is like swimming with the birds in the clouds. And for those who know its worth, there is nothing compared with making a splash on home turf.   But most home owners who consider such designs too daring, go for spectacular pools which appear like giant-size ice blocks giving the illusion that the water is without any visible means of containment.  Some people even include a pool window that looks into the home’s living room like an aquarium-style.

Olumide says she won’t go into the Balcony styled pool yet even though she knows that futuristic designs are in vogue in a world where resorts are building underwater restaurant contained in a transparent tunnel. In such restaurants, clients don’t swim, but the fish around them do.

FUNKE OSAE-BROWN

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