inspirational outdoor area

This inspirational outdoor area was once unusable


Urban Escape has turned a previously unusable space on this steep block into an inspirational outdoor entertainment area

By working closely with the clients to create their dream design through superior workmanship, while navigating an extremely difficult site, Urban Escape has created something very special for this Sydney family. The home owner engaged Urban Escape after recently purchasing this property on a steep Middle Harbour block, not only wanting to admire the incredible view, but also to create an inspirational outdoor entertaining area and pool that’s easily accessible from the home. All of this was to be achieved on a previously unusable sloping section of the site.

This masterpiece is a true showcase of what can be achieved with clever design and skilful construction. A fully formed suspended pool perched on a steep section of land creates the perfect family oasis — a pool, spa and entertaining area — on what was a previously unusable space.

Urban Escape designed and constructed the entire project, but the challenges for the company began at the design and approval phase, with the pool needing to be suspended on a steep section of the property. This involved a delicate balance between the clients’ brief, the design vision of Urban Escape’s principal designer Nick McCarthy, and the construction ability.

Working closely with geotechnical and structural engineers, a concept was presented that covered the client brief, provided an aesthetically appealing solution yet was underpinned by strong structural provenance.

The steep site was only accessible by a shared inclinator with weight restrictions. This led to an array of situations that needed both patience and well-considered problem-solving skills. The nature of this site required the pool to be built on piers that had to be hand-dug down to bedrock, with all materials carried out via the inclinator based on its restrictions.

The clever design links the pool and deck with the split-level tiered home. The position of the pool has created a substantial level entertaining space adjacent to the pool, linked to the home via a hardwood timber staircase that doubles as a pool fence. Glass was utilised for the spa wet edge and a section of the pool wall, and a Croatian limestone feature wall is a stunning addition to the space. The pool is fully automated with in-floor cleaning, gas heating and an inverter heat pump.

“This site would be classed as a difficult building site when it comes to access constraints and the labour involved in the pool construction and landscaping, but at no stage was the build compromised by this,” says Nick. “All construction and finishes were completed to the highest of standards, creating a true showcase for both our team and the customer.”

Urban Escape began as a structural landscape company with a clear but simple vision of creating quality and stylish gardens to suit its clients’ needs. Owner Nick McCarthy holds a science degree in horticulture and landscape design, and shortly after starting a landscaping business he was inspired to become a licensed pool builder.

“There was a tendency to put pools where the client said without thinking it through, or even to just put it where it was easiest for the builder, rather than for the best outcome,” explains Nick. “That is essentially why I got into building pools — so I could be sure our pool was put in the best location. Sometimes an architect just draws a rectangle and that is it. A swimming pool is a big item and needs to be integrated and thought through so it works with the landscape.”

This boutique company has now been an integral part of Sydney’s landscaping and pool industry for more than 25 years. Urban Escape offers a holistic approach to outdoor design, from consultation and design to council submissions, maintenance, landscaping construction as well as pool/spa construction, resulting in a seamless and stress-free process for clients.

The company prides itself on its personalised service, limiting its clientele to those in the Sydney metropolitan area, creating and renovating between 10 and 15 pools per year and going through a lengthy consultation process to achieve a comprehensive brief prior to design work.
Urban Escape has been recognised for its quality workmanship and has received many awards, both local and national, for its pools and gardens.

This project is an entrant into the Poolside 2022 Australian Pool of the Year Awards, celebrating excellence in pool design and construction. All entrants were featured in Poolside 57, with winners to be announced in Poolside 58.

For more information, 

Urban Escape 

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