Intentions: Design a pool and pool deck that tied in with the Community Building, one that protected clients from the prevalent winds from the northwest, provided areas of both sun and shade, had changing rooms and toilet facilites nearby, had an outdoor shower, bar and barbecue, and one that maximizes the perceived size of the pool while minimizing energy consumption.
Functional Results: Following the general layout of the Community Building, we grouped the more public activities, such as sun bathing, wading, lap swimming and dining to the north and the more private areas, such as the shower, changing rooms, and maintenance facilities to the south. We used a wet deck, a very shallow pool for sitting in, to increase the perceived size of the pool and minimize pump loads, separated by stepping stone to a deeper lap pool. We also created an underground storage beneath the north dining area to store an insulated pool cover, the cover used to lock in the heat during the sometimes chilly desert nights. All of the lighting uses high-efficiency LED lights.
Aesthetic Results: The layout of the pool and its elements was inspired by the seeming random, yet harmoniously balanced proportions of a Japanese Zen garden. Continuing the golden mean proportioning system from the Community Building, which is also happens to be used (consciously or not) in many Zen gardens, we employed more circles and arcs to bring balance to the predominantly rectangular structure of the adjacent community building. We also focused on alignment, creating axial relationships between the building and the elements on the pool deck. For example, the stairs off the south west entrance to the pool deck and the pool stairs themselves are aligned with the interior stairs of the circulation tower. The sauna inside the Community building is aligned with the wet deck and the spa, while the outdoor shower is aligned with the changing rooms in one direction and the lap pool in the other direction. There is always a focal point of a statue or planter at the end of the circulation corridors, drawing the people from one place to the next. Black river stones set in the surface continue the zen garden feel, while generous planters throughout bring the plants of the desert into the hardscaped pool deck.
On a creative note, it took us several days of re arranging all the elements to make it work. But when they finally fell into place, it was magical, a feeling that a designer lives for. We made several minor modification as time went on, but the basic design, like tumblers in a lock, all came into alignment. We are really proud of the way it turned out and the clients of the retreat center rave about it.