Although the renovation of this house in Devonport, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, is a couple of years off, the clients decided to build the pool in advance. Specifically: they wanted the pool to connect directly to the house, and be accessed from the existing deck and outdoor dining area, so they could see the kids in the pool from the kitchen. “They were clear from the beginning where they wanted the pool,” says architect Julian Mitchell of MItchell Stout Dodd, who designed it with his wife and architect partner Rachel Dodd. “And they weren’t afraid to make a feature out of it,” he says.
What makes a good pool?
Thoughtfully designed fencing and access – in this case – off the deck at the house end. Deep at one end for kids to dive into. A spa pool for use all year round. Solar heating so the pool can be used much of the year. The clients made a great choice with the white tiles here because the pool changes colour with the sky so, on a sunny day, it’s a beautiful clear blue. Location to catch the sun most of the year, and some shade in mid-summer.
Pool fencing is generally clunky but this isn’t.
Fortunately, the existing deck was a metre high, so by scraping 200mm off the backyard the in-situ concrete pool wall could be 1200mm above – perfect to stop kids climbing in. Where we needed additional pool fencing we used cedar slats to tie in with the boundary fencing, and only one straight run of frameless glass between the house and pool.
Tell us about the timber fence.
We tried to keep the material palette to a minimum. The cedar fence that wraps around the boundary had to be unclimbable from the neighbour’s side so we used stained plywood and overlaid it with vertical cedar battens. It contains the pool, adds texture and provides some acoustic privacy. The builders did a great job and the gate keying back into the fence is a lovely touch.
Tell us about the port hole.
We had to design the window with a sloping sill to prevent people standing on its edge and climbing the wall. It visually links the pool to the garden area. Instead of looking at one long in-situ wall, those in the garden can engage with the swimmers and vice versa. It also looks groovy.
It’s a new pool in an old garden. How have you handled planting?
The garden was integral to the pool design. An existing lemon tree hedge holds the sitting area at the edge. We retained an old feijoa tree to provide shade and interest over the pool – the kids retrieve the feijoas that fall in and float on the water. Round concrete stepping planters allow access to the pool gate at the far end. The client has cleverly used hardy ground covers that spill over the edges and can withstand kids’ traffic. The old pōhutukawa is an added bonus.