Finding the Right Fit for a Herndon Swimming Pool Design
Our Herndon Virginia homeowner had already made a significant investment in landscape design. So, getting this lagoon style swimming pool design & installation right was tricky. The landscape architect had to design a curvy lagoon style pool to fit in limited space without throwing the composition out of balance or crowding other features in the yard.
The existing backyard landscaping included a spa and flagstone patio anchored by a 22 foot long curved retaining wall with built-in stone bench seating and a magnificent stone fireplace. Now, six years later, the owners decided it was time to add the swimming pool they’d left out of the phase one landscape design. What a great idea and what a compositional challenge.
Swimming Pool Design From Every Angle
Howard Cohen, the landscape architect, presented multiple concepts all driven by the need to maximize available space in the yard while preserving the existing landscape features. The iterations were also attempts to find approaches that would help control cost. As the client put it:
We had to find a place where the intersection of beauty and cost could meet. We were going back and forth on how much to spend. The more elaborate we got, with waterfalls and boulders, the more the landscaping cost.
Surrendering To Beauty
The clients felt that the reduced cost designs would not make them happy because they weren’t beautiful enough. So, they surrendered to beauty and chose the pool design that gave them everything they wanted.
Making the Most of the Least Space
Once we’ve agreed on the shape and features of the pool as a sculptural form, we go to a rendering that shows the finished effect with boulders and plantings. The landscape architect gives a detailed picture from multiple views that show how it will feel to be in that environment.
Much of the beauty and interest in this lagoon style swimming pool design is grounded in practicality. The architect’s design is in many ways a creative response to limitations on site.
Four core design features exemplify this:
One. The swimming pool design calls for a negative edge This pool feature (also called infinity edge, zero edge or vanishing edge) creates an illusion wherein the water surface appears to vanish into the air at the end of the pool. When you sit at the fireplace area, the water’s edge will be at eye level. It will seem like you are “in the water.”
Likewise, when you are in the pool, because of the negative edge, the patio will appear to be “in” the pool.
This visual effect has a practical function as well. It allows the pool and the fireplace to co-exist comfortably close to each other in this somewhat limited space.
Two. The swimming pool design integrates a waterfall with boulders into the picture. The waterfall and boulders will naturally define the far end of the pool.
It is worth noting that this waterfall feature makes use of an existing condition on the site–the hillside. The designer used what was already there to benefit the design.
Three. The pool basin itself is fairly complex in both design and construction. Even for a lagoon style pool, this design employs many curving edges and walls—and a curved basin as well.
There are submerged ledges and steps. A diving ledge and boulders will be integrated into the surface concrete and patio work.
Four. The pool is much closer to the house than we would like ideally. So the landscaping plan calls for tall grasses, drift roses and weeping tree specimens to ease the transition from indoors to outdoors and mask the view of the house from the pool.
Since this is not a large pool area, these aesthetic effects contribute a lot to its functionality and appeal. All together they make an environment that feels good to be in.
The Sculpture of the Pool: Where Creativity & Technology Meet
Even in unfinished form a lagoon style swimming pool is an impressive piece of in ground sculpture. And, while lagoon style pools give off an inviting and natural look, they are the result of a sophisticated construction technique and a multi-step process. The eight basic steps in concrete swimming pool construction are:
- Site Preparation & Excavation
- Plumbing & Electrical Rough In
- Steel Forms
- Shoot Gunite (concrete)
- Pool Tile & Coping
- Pool Deck installation
- Install Mechanical Equipment
- Interior Finish: Waterproofing and Plaster
We’d like to focus briefly on steps three and four to help you understand how the pool construction contractor uses this technique to sculpt a pool into the form prescribed by the landscape architect.
After excavation and plumbing rough in, the workers set steel reinforcing bars in the pit and bend them to follow the shape of the pool walls, basin and other features (steps or ledges) prescribed in the design. This steel “basket” will add strength for the next step: concrete.
In swimming pool construction, we use a low moisture type of concrete called Gunite. The Gunite is “shot” from a hose at high velocity to fill the space between the earth walls and steel framework. It is troweled and sculpted to follow the shape formed by the steel work. So, you can see that this technique makes a wide range of creative expression available to the designer.
Although the shape of the pool is carefully designed and construction is planned out, the Gunite shooting happens rapidly so the workers have to be really on the ball. Workers move quickly to shape the Gunite as it is blown into place.
Swimming Pool Installation Adds a Layer of Complexity To Landscape Design
The constraints of the site in this Herndon project set the direction for design. But any landscape design that includes a swimming pool is going to require finesse. As you can see from the construction details we included, there are multiple steps and multiple parties involved. So it’s imperative that they work well together. We at Surrounds entrust many of our swimming pool installations to Town & Country Pools. It’s important to us to work with partners who are as invested in the success of our clients wishes as we are.
If you’d like to find out more about outdoor swimming pool design and construction, please feel free to contact one of our landscape architects.
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