The Canvas:A hidden pool, a hillside home on stilts, a desire to be visibleThe Palette: Perimeter-overflow spa, flagstone deck, rhapsody in blueThe Masterpiece: A radiused curve so graceful it breaks your heart and mends it again in a single second, inspired indulgence, tropical-tinged luxury
I all started with a simple request. A Florida Keys couple wanted the pool in their vacation home to be more visible. But the pool was located 7 feet below the home’s main level.
“They wanted guests to actually see the pool when they walked into the house,” says pool designer Brian Van Bower, president of Aquatic Consultants Inc. in Miami.
The couple often hosted parties with world-renowned luminaries (think heads of state), but they also wanted the pool to appear inviting to their children and 10 grandchildren.
The final plan involved elevating the entire pool site, which was no easy feat because the hillside home sits on stilts. As the project was constructed, the home also was undergoing changes under the guidance of Miami architect Bill Taylor, principal at The Taylor and Taylor Partnership. Originally a series of separate pavilions, the homeowners decided to connect the buildings.
The elegantly curving pool, measuring 40-by-16-feet, creates an unusual design as it crosses the property. “The arc fits along the property lines,” says Van Bower, who is also co-founder of Genesis 3, an organization dedicated to design education. “The vanishing edge is in a radius that’s an interesting detail to look at.”
The existing pool had a substantial safety railing that actually blocked the magnificent ocean views. So Van Bower and Taylor began reworking the pool. Van Bower suggested a shallow lounging area for the grandchildren, which made the pool larger and more functional.
For the 40-foot vanishing edge, he designed a narrower-than-traditional trough, measuring less than 12 feet. The circular spa features a perimeter overflow, and the entire project is covered in 3/4-inch glass tiles, custom created in Italy. Taylor points out that the tile alone cost $200,000 of the $1 million pool
and spa project.
Van Bower also included an electronic control system with a spa link, a surge protector, a pool-light dimmer and an auto-leveling system. Reef Tropical Pools of Key Largo, Fla., installed the hydraulic system and assisted with various aspects of construction.
The result of the year-long project is a uniquely understated, yet magical, environment. “When you walk onto the deck, you’re 22 feet up in the air, and there’s no visible railing. That’s an unusual experience,” Taylor says.
In the distance, “You almost always see sharks and manta rays jumping in the water, and fishermen in the bone fishing flat,” he adds. “It’s completely idyllic.”