Created between a 150-year-old heritage church and a modern home extension, this cutting-edge pool not only stands out, but also pays homage to both church and home, making it feel like it was always meant to be there
Just how does a pool, modern home and church dating from around 1870 merge effortlessly, while appearing both contemporary and classic? This was the question posed to Splash Constructions SA and architect Little Suburban Studio for this geometric pool project in Adelaide. The brief to both companies was to create a feature for the home that would balance the aesthetics of a 150-year-old church in the backyard with a modern extension to the home. The structure also had to be sympathetic to both the church and home, despite them being built so many years apart.
Nestled between the heritage church and the modern extension on the Ovingham property, the 7m-long pool built by Splash Constructions SA plays a unique and important role in terms of both functionality and aesthetics. The above-ground concrete pool construction has become a significant feature to the property and delivers cutting-edge functionality within a sleek design.
This pool’s most notable feature is its ability to stand out as a central element of the home, yet somehow appear as if it was always meant to be there, boldly contemporary in its design and timelessly classic in its use of materials.
The restrained materials palette ensures the pool feels like it belongs in both the heritage and contemporary setting. The simple palette of custom glass mosaic tiles, dark charcoal coping and outer tiling, merbau timber decking and detailing, glass and black powder-coated steel allows the highly contemporary structure to feel sympathetic with its 150-year-old neighbour.
The most unique material, however, is the 40mm-thick acrylic slab window — the obvious hero of the project. The window was part of the brief and required significant engineering, adjustment and preparation to ensure a structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing result.
The design of the pool, by Little Suburban Studio, delivers every practical and technological convenience but with a minimalist design aesthetic and clever concealment of all equipment and operational requirements.
Ease of functionality is paramount and has been catered for with a concealed under-deck pool cover, full equipment shed, additional storage and all equipment easily accessible under the decking, plus clever storage in all benching surrounding the pool. There is easy concealed-door access to the equipment shed from the lawn and room to move inside.
All lighting is understated yet striking as it casts up the limestone walls of the old church, while the coloured lights deliver a glow through the window that can be admired when you first open the front door of the home some 30m down the hallway.
Careful excavation and engineering with the groundworks, plus careful design and materials detailing to ensure the final structure did not clash or detract from the beauty and history of the existing buildings, achieved the practical requirements of a modern pool without impact on the site.
Construction problems included how to excavate at the base of a heritage structure, which is built on stacked bluestone foundations, ensuring no encroachment into the load-bearing sub soils, while positioning the slab as close as possible to the building footings.
The window in the front face of the above-ground concrete pour required multiple revisions to the engineer’s drawings to ensure structural integrity for the pressure on the inside of the 40mm acrylic and sufficient concrete to achieve strength, while maintaining a 60-degree rebate angle for anti-climbing regulations.
Ensuring the front wall of the pool could be its own safety fence, without the need for additional glass fencing, also required several adjustments to abutting garden beds and other structures for safe clearances and minimum height requirements.
With a designer as a client, attention to detail and quality of workmanship was always under close inspection. Every detail was considered, including the site cut to the formwork, structural steel and pipework, before concrete pour to the alignments of tile joins, transitions from internal to external tiles, decking and grouting, and window and silicone finishes. The result is a pool with a high level of technical perfection and visible pride by all trades in their workmanship.
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Splash Constructions SA