Why do homes have swimming pools?
It may seem like this is a question with an obvious answer—To swim in, of course!—but it’s important to recognize that even functional amenities, like pools, can play multiple roles enhancing an owner’s enjoyment of their home.
Simply put, swimming pools can be leveraged as a powerful architectural device, developing and reinforcing the underlying visual and emotional themes of a project. At EYRC, we recognize that pools don’t need to be purely functional; that they offer tremendous opportunity to be creative.
Of course, there are certain elements which will be determined by the logistics of the project. The size and location of the pool, for example, will be based on what the pool is intended to be used for. Is it for family use? Entertaining a crowd? Athletic training? Quiet relaxation? But beyond this, we leverage the pool as an architectural device in and of itself, for example, as a means of extending the landscape, framing views, or adding a unique sculptural element to the yard.
Below, we explore a number of our residential projects in which pools have played an important role in design.
The Emerald Bay residence was designed and oriented to take advantage of the site’s view, which resulted in some unique angles and forms throughout the home. For this pool, which is located at the back of the home, we settled on a triangular shape which reflects the overarching angular theme of the house. While we could have created a more typical lap pool, the layout of this lot brought the unique opportunity to design something exciting and interesting, ultimately resulting in this sculptural piece.
Learn more about the Emerald Bay residence here.
The Spring Road residence, like the Emerald Bay residence, was specifically designed to take advantage of the site’s stunning views of Mt. Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay. The infinity pool—constructed from materials specifically chosen for the black mirror-like effect they create—reflects this view and effectively extends it. Both the pool and the nearby jacuzzi also act as simple structural pieces and form a focal point for the home.
The same effect can be seen in the Ridge Mountain residence, which utilizes an infinity pool to similarly extend the view.
The owners of the Irvine Cove residence valued having the ability to entertain guests. This became a very important theme to the overall project, and influenced many of the architectural components, including the pool. In designing the pool, white glass tile was used to give the water a beautiful light blue color and create the Palm Springs “vibe” that the owners were looking for. While the pool doesn’t specifically enhance the view, it also doesn’t take away from it; the pool deck itself is slightly lowered from the rest of the home so that the chaise lounges can be used without impeding the view looking out from the home.
The swimming pool at 700 Palms plays a functional role as a lap pool. It was designed with privacy in mind: A retractable roll-down scrim offers shade when desired, and helps create a sense of seclusion in an otherwise bustling neighborhood. Beyond this, however, the pool plays a unique role in that it is a part of the entry sequence to the home: Visitors walk alongside the pool and enjoy its beauty and tranquility as they enter, helping to blur the transition between indoor and outdoor space.
Whereas many of the other pools highlighted in this list play a role in extending the view or serving as a sculptural point, the pool designed for the Kuhlman Road residence plays a very different role. The generous size of the lot allowed plenty of space for us to create a private backyard oasis, perfect for relaxation and entertainment. It floats in the landscape, connected to the home by a very deliberate stone path which echoes the entryway, and which separates the pool from the spa.
As the above examples illustrate, a swimming pool can serve so many varied purposes besides simply being a place to swim. They can extend and frame views. They can enhance a homeowner’s ability to entertain or relax. They can serve as sculptural points of interest. Really, the role that a pool can play in your modern home is only limited by the themes and goals of your overall design.
Natalie LaHaie is the Business Development and Marketing Director at Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC). She is a graphic designer by trade and a natural strategic thinker, employing design to express vision, direction, and values. With over a decade of experience in the field of architecture and design, she admires the role of architecture in bringing people together from all backgrounds and walks of life - specifically through community, education, and civic buildings.