Creating a sleek backyard retreat

For years, this back yard was devoid of comfort, with only a lawn and a rock embankment as features. Now, thanks to an innovative poolscape design, it’s a lush backyard retreat

ARGO Architects sleek backyard retreat

Conscious of tying the existing alfresco area into the new works, landscape architect, Will Marcus of ARGO Architects, has designed a functional and well planned outdoor space. The design approach was to create a clean, bright water-based play space for the owner’s three young daughters, giving the family a stylish leisure zone and a natural rainforest in their own backyard.

“We retained much of the existing rock embankment with the new pool and spa walls, sculpting the far pool edge to suit the landscape,” says Will. “The resulting pool shape merges with the surrounding nature, while the north-facing raised pool edge creates the perfect place to sit or lounge in the sun.”

Every part of the pool and surrounding landscape has a play function – even the broad weir between the spa and the pool creates a shallow zone where the children can lie and enjoy the gentle cascade.

ARGO Architects sleek backyard retreat

The enclosed spa allows up to six people to relax, shaded by the greenery, and features Waterway Polystorm hydrotherapy spa jets and a custom-designed micro-massage air bed. Developed by ARGO following research into hydrotherapy in Czechoslovakia in 1990 and 1991, the technology brings the best in hydrotherapy for therapeutic use to residential spas. The micro-massage bubbles stimulate the nerve endings under the skin like bubbles in a carbonated drink and this, Will says, is the key to effective therapy. “If the bubbles are too large and too far apart, the therapeutic effects are lost.”

Related article: A lush tropical poolscape in Brisbane’s West End

People often ask for an integrated, resort-like appearance to their poolscapes, but what is not clear to them is how that outcome can be achieved. “For us, it comes down to the material selections and the function of all the spaces surrounding the pool,” says Will. “The finishes must integrate into the architecture, and night lighting is of critical importance.”

ARGO Architects sleek backyard retreat

A strong white and green colour scheme was selected for the pool’s surfaces to make the area feel fresh and tropical – a risky colour combination, as Will explains.

“It’s not often that we would choose a white tile for a Brisbane poolscape, purely because the glare of the Summer sun tends to bounce off the surface,” Will says. “However, in this particular case, no such glare problem was anticipated thanks to the site’s aspect. Also, the lush green backdrop of rainforest helps to modify the view.”

ARGO Architects sleek backyard retreat

On this project, ARGO Architects partnered with Matthew Yourell, structural engineer from Newport Consulting Engineers; pool builders, Wally and Elliot Fowke, from Fowke Design and Construction; landscape designer, Paul Byrne, from Paul Byrne Design and Construction; QIS Solarwise for the solar and electric heat pump and pool blanket; and Jewels4Pools for the pool’s interior lining.

It’s what Will and ARGO Architects‘ project manager Dylan Chen both describe as their ‘crack’ team. “If the construction and consultant team are not in sync with the client and each other, then the outcome is poor. We always work well with our chosen partners across all aspects of the design and build of our poolscapes, having completed a plethora of high-end, innovative poolscapes together through the years. Having a well-experienced team of experts like this, working in collaboration, makes all the difference to the end result.”

ARGO Architects sleek backyard retreat

Photography: Glenn Weiss