‘Golden Pond’ seems to be the perfect description of this courtyard poolscape at dusk, but during the day, it transforms into a tropical retreat richly infused with silver, copper and wood tones. Designed by Will Marcus and Dylan Chen at ARGO (Architects and Landscape Architects), it was a response to the clients’ need to keep their three very active young men well occupied and to be an extension of their beautiful architect-designed home in the Brisbane suburb of West End.
The house features lovely timber panelling and louvres with orange and golden features, and these distinct visual keys informed Will and Dylan’s material selections. The client had also requested that a high-performance solar absorber be incorporated on to the roof of the house, complete with a dedicated control system to monitor sun, rain and cloud cover to ensure premium delivery of heat from the roof to the pool water.
The engineers at Solarwise gave great comfort to the team by being able to accurately simulate the pool’s water temperatures right across the year, thus ensuring that the desired outcome is delivered. “Because of Solarwise and the black Jewels4Pools glass bead interior we have used, this pool is able to maintain 28 degrees Celsius throughout autumn and spring, and during the peak heat of summer,” explains Will of the innovative selections. “The solar system can actually reverse cycle and chill the pool water at night to ensure that ideal temperature is maintained, even on the hottest days.”
The project was from the outset a difficult one due to a lack of easy access on the site. “Several pool builders actually walked away from the job because of the site difficulties,” says Will. “Brandon Appleton from Genesis Pools, however, thrived in this tricky backyard – he and his team excavated the pool by hand (yes – bare hands, shovels, picks and jackhammers!) and ferried the soil to skips on the street down the side of the house using wheelbarrows and buckets.” A tough gig, no doubt!
Additionally, the pool was mainly set out of the ground, but the specialised structural engineering of the swimming pool by the design team from Newport Consulting Engineers ensured a buildable solution – including bored piers, out of ground pool walls and cantilevered timber decking. Newport Consulting Engineers also oversaw all inspections during the construction, which was undertaken by Director and Senior Engineer, Matthew Yourell.
As with many of ARGO’s innovative pool designs, colour and character have been introduced with the use of feature tiles, like the bronze tiled wall on the boundary. “It’s actually a ‘splash wall’ – or anti-splash wall so that the neighbour doesn’t ‘cop’ a bomb-dive while gardening!” says Will.
Jewels4Pools black glass bead interior was selected specifically because of its ability to reflect the feature tiles, but the premium matrix has proven to make this interior last a long time. “Also, dark pool interiors tend to hold the heat better when they get sunlight,” adds Will. “The touch of green glass in the mix brought out the stunning complimentary colour match with the metallic tiles (orange-green), and we brought the timber decking down almost to water level so the decks look like they float on the pool surface.”
These decks are a great feature of this landscape, with each planned to have a very specific use. One is a long bridge that links the back yard to the verandah and on to the pool entry steps. The larger main deck, which is slightly higher for aspect (and to reduce the possibility of splash) provides the stage for an outdoor dining setting, protected by a large black retractable market umbrella. Another smaller deck is the home of the Webber BBQ but also sun lounges.
“Effectively, the entire back yard is now either elevated timber deck or water and all surrounded by rich tropical planting by Paul Byrne, whose landscaping talents often grace Argo’s designs,” says Will of the lush, layered effects. Paul, the client and ARGO were very conscious of the famous Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Manning Bawa, when designing this poolscape and selecting plants, and Bawa’s influence with the landscaped garden integrated into the architecture is evident throughout.
Tropical plantings make this poolscape feel like an oasis with bamboo to screen out neighbours and gingers, Heliconias and Frangipanis creating a flowering backdrop to each deck. “The main deck is like a garden room because the plants are enclosing it on three sides and the market umbrella covers it almost entirely,” adds Will.
Technically, this swimming pool represents state of the art mechanicals with assistance from Genesis Pools, Legend Products & Services and Australian Innovative Systems (AIS) guiding ARGO’s selections to ensure high performance, low maintenance equipment that will last for many years.
Will advises his clients how surprisingly little extra cost there is to have the premium equipment on your pool, working with them to select high-quality pool innovations that offer ease of maintenance and long life. “All are worthwhile objectives … unless you love cleaning out filters on your weekends!” says Will.
The Baker Hydro Sand Filter from Legends Products & Services uses glass beads to filter more finely and both pumps (pool filter circulation and solar heater circulation) have DC motors with variable speed which ensures high performance when you need it but also extremely cost-effective operation. AIS manufactured Autochlor salt water chlorinator is the sanitation powerhouse of this system, creating chlorine from the pool salts very efficiently while cleaning itself. “The salt level of the pool is less than the salinity of human tears, so it is very pleasant to swim in and no harm to the plants.”
Poolscapes are becoming more complex as Australian’s tastes develop towards backyard resorts. As a direct result, the teamwork required to bring these built dreams to fruition is now more and more an important part of any poolscape project, as experts like Will and his team from ARGO can attest. “If you are after an outstanding poolscape, you need a team who know how, as not all backyard swimming pools are created equal.”
Photography: Glenn Weiss