In this project, the designers didn’t have much room; in fact, most of the space had to be created by building up a sloping yard.
“We felt like it was important to see the pool water and the features from inside the house,” says Jim Jech, design director of McDugald-Steele Austin. “If we were to step the pool down, say 3 or 4 feet below these porches, we thought it would be too disconnected from the living spaces.”
The challenge was to physically link the pool and house without cramming them together. There had to be sufficient deck area between them.
So Jech found a happy medium. One side of the pool would sit a few feet from the house, allowing perfect viewing from a veranda. The rest of the pool would branch out, almost diagonally, from the house, creating the open deck space.
The pool’s home side, which is mostly linear with hard corners, established the architectural bond.
“That’s a way this pool kind of locked onto the architecture,” Jech says. “At the end of the pool, it relates to the veranda and the living room.”
The designers wanted a waterfeature to be viewed from indoors. So they created a set of three walls with water pouring out, each projecting a bit farther into the pool than the last.
A limestone scupper detail on each wall matches the home’s modified Spanish Colonial architecture.
Everything in place
With the architecture connected, Jech then moved the length of the pool away from the house, and fashioned it in a bold S-curve.
“I don’t like things that are soft and weak,” Jech says. “I like them bold and strong in form. We developed that to get the proper width and scale to the pool, but also to elongate it for a swim lane.”
The spa would sit at the other end of the pool, giving the homeowners an ideal view.
“The pool ends with what I call a punctuation, with the spa being a pure circle at the end of the pool,” Jech says. “The elevated circular spa helps resolve that end of the pool. That then relates to another area of the house that has a couple of covered porches arranged asymmetrically. So this pool relates as a whole to the entire back of the house, but it also relates in pieces to some of the indoor spaces.”
Jech added a stylized jumping platform for diving … and aesthetics.
“It’s just basically a round disc of flagstone on the shape of the pool, near the coping,” he says. “But it’s really more of a pedestal that locks onto the pool, so it’s not calling out to be a diving platform. It’s more of a complementary shape to the pool.”
The materials were chosen to reflect the home’s ocher yellow stucco finish. The expansive deck, for instance, was covered with random-patterned Arizona flagstone.
“It has a peach-salmon intonation,” says Dan Hartnett, senior designer/superintendent at Ocean Quest Pools.
The free-form nature of this choice was tempered by the coping, as well as a band of square clay brick behind the coping and around the deck’s border.
“The coping is more of a structured, cut piece; the field between the two bands of brick is done in a random pattern,” Hartnett says. “Then the clay banding is also used at the base of all the waterfeatures, and at the base of the spa.”
Looking back, Jech believes he fulfilled his company’s mission.
“We always want to actually tie back to what’s the dominant thing for a homeowner: the house,” he says. “So we like to take the approach of having some relationships [with] the architecture.”