This pool/spa combination cuts a bold form to match accompany this modern home along the Intracoastal Waterway. The statement earned this installation a spot in PebbleTec’s annual book, The World’s Greatest Pools.
Architect Benjamin Schreier of Affiniti Architects in Boca Raton, Fla., gave this home its unquestionably modern styling, with strong lines, light materials and glass walls. He provided a rough sketch of a long, narrow pool centered on the main room and jutting out toward the view of the Waterway to create an instant visual connection and sense of flow with the home.
To reinforce this vision, landscape architect Steve Parker designed a similarly minimalistic pool/spa combination. Large floating steps, measuring about 4 feet, take individuals from one side of the pool to the other.
“They tie together a sitting area outside the kitchen, to the other side of the pool, with the master bedroom and another sitting area,” says Parker, of Parker Yannette Design Group in Jupiter, Fla.
In front of the stepping pads sits a submerged spa/sunshelf combination. The hot-water vessel sits in the center, surrounded by shallow lounging area. Upon the spa’s activation, the water levels lower to separate hot from cold.
The installation is coated with Ocean Blue PebbleSheen, applied by Pool Boy Plastering of Pompano Beach, Fla.
Large-format, white porcelain tiles form the floating step stones, as well as the pool’s coping and deck. The tiles are mildly textured to prevent slippage. He uses this material when he can because of its density.
“In Florida if you use anything soft, it will get mildew and require pressure cleaning all the time,” Parker says.
Still, he minimized the hardscape, with much of the yard covered in artificial turf. This way, he says, “the pool has a lot of strong definition with just coping and the green around it. It’s not lost in a big patio.”
Laminar arcs provide water movement and sound, while the recessed nozzles maintained the integrity of the clean lines.
Near the house, two wild date palms bookend the pool’s width.
“That rugged texture of the trunk contrasts really well with the real clean, smooth stucco and glass of the house,” Parker says. “I felt like I needed two palms there to frame and anchor that end of the pool.”
Against the house, Parker kept the plantings very low to preserve the building’s strong lines. Several more palms on the other side of the yard screen the pool from the neighbor.
Though simplicity may have been a dominant characteristic of this design from an aesthetic standpoint, the same could not be said for the engineering and construction.
For the perimeter-flow effect to look right, the pool has to stay still, maintaining level weirs and uniform flow around it. Sitting on the waterfront, the soil couldn’t support the structure on its own. To secure it, pool builder Almar Jackson Pools installed approximately 30 helical piles. These galvanized steel piles were driven into the ground with a hydraulic screw press until they met an amount of resistance specified by the engineer as an indication of when they’d reached solid-enough ground. The piles are then tied into the pool structure.
Extra support also was required for the porcelain perimeter-overflow coping. At only 3/8-inch thick, the team figured, it could not support itself. “Normally when we have a perimeter overflow, we install like a 2- or 3-inch-thick coping on the outside,” says Drew Nash, vice president of Almar/Jackson Pools in Jupiter, Fla. “Typically if we use a 3-inch stone and it has enough density to support itself, then we would not require that system.”
At the pool’s edge, Nash and his team installed ¼-inch-thick stainless steel pans, custom made by a local steel fabricator. On top of that, they applied a crack-suppression membrane. This thin fiber sheet would separate the pan and the tile so that they could expand and contract at their own rates without impacting the other. The porcelain coping was then installed.
The installation also necessitated unusually long plumbing runs. The pool’s fiberglass holding tank sits approximately 75 feet from the pool on one side, while the equipment pad was placed about 75 feet from the other side. This means water must travel about 150 feet when traveling from the holding tank back to the pump. The plumbing had to run underneath the home’s foundation, which was also under construction.
To allow the long runs, plumbing sleeves — essentially 8- or 10-inch pipes — were installed in the ground before the foundation was formed and poured. Then the pool lines could run through the sleeves.
When combined with a lower-elevation sitting area by the dock, hidden from the yard level, you have a final product where that shows everything you want to see — and conceals everything that you don’t.