Taking the Plunge
It’s a compelling dream to live poolside – especially during the hot, waning days of summer. So let’s dive in! Think of the Alhambra in Spain with its
shallow pools and long water courses — though maybe no diving there (photo courtesy Viva-Spain). Here are some examples of more recent houses — if not palaces — with seamless indoor-outdoor poolscapes.
It was natural for the swimming pool to become an emblem of the suburban dream in sunny Southern California, with its culture of experimentation and cinematic glamor, but architects took it a step farther in the 1950s and 1960s, when they incorporated it into the house and treated it as a room in its own right (naturally the air could get a little thick). Los Angeles-based ranch house popularizer Cliff May, for example, made the pool part of the living
room in some houses, like this one in Rolling Hills from 1963. (That planter by the pool was important — you wouldn’t want your LazyBoy to roll into the drink during cocktails by the fire.) In a house May designed for Tucson the
pool is shaded by an extended gable made of ocotillo branches and has a stone table/island at the center — it’s a marvelous shimmering and shady mirage of a desert isle made real (both photos by Rochelle Kramer, courtesy RanchoStyle).
Los Angeles architect John Lautner turned the pool into abstract architectural sculpture, especially in his great Sheats-Goldstein house on a steep hillside, of 1963, where the pool resembles a solid block of glass inserted flush with the
patio, which is itself an extension of the living room under its concrete roof-riff on the triangle (photo by ARTJOCKS courtesy James Goldstein). This remarkable design is all about contrasting solids and voids, enclosure and exposure, and geometric shape expanding into space toward Downtown LA.
(photo courtesy Arcspace). Originally only a curtain of air separated inside from outside, but this was later replaced with glass. The pool also functions as a sort of aquarium for swimmers because windows look into it from the master suite on the lower level.
Today, architects around the world have put pools everywhere, even on the
roof, as this famous house in Paris by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) of 1991 shows (photo courtesy OMA). A recent design by the inventive
Singapore firm of Guz Architects keeps the pool on the ground but lifts the house over it in a dramatic acrobatic gesture. The structure floats while the pool supports — a wonderful reversal of roles.
Italian architect Lorenzo Spano, who is part of our Exclusive Studio, has
developed this idea in his Plan 473-2, shown here, where the bedroom floor
is above the pool. The living-dining-kitchen is at pool level. Part of the hallway
floor is glass, so you can see through to the swimmers below. Perhaps Lorenzo was thinking of the Blue Grotto on Capri! Swimming pools just seem to encourage “freestyle” home design.