Sweet spot: a clever courtyard pool


A clever courtyard pool on the first floor of an old confectionary factory in inner-city Melbourne takes this home to new heights

This first-floor courtyard pool and grassy terrace is encapsulated by the original factory facade of a former sweets factory in Prahran. Architect Stephen Jolson has transformed the interior of the three-storey 1950s Melbourne factory, Sunrise Confectioners, into a stunning home and studio. The grassed seasonal garden extends across the entire width of the site and the new swimming pool has been designed to complement the garden.

The pool’s circular shape is seemingly held between the facades and the climbing fig landscape around the pool, carefully planted so that the pool will one day become a “hedge of green water” within the garden walls. The climbing fig, which will eventually envelop the pool‚Äôs shell, contrasts with the deciduous leaves and scale of the Boston ivy on the surrounding courtyard walls.

The north-facing garden and courtyard pool are the central points of the project, positioned to complement family living and to add dimension to the space. The dramatic, raised circular concrete pool has a radius of 2600mm and is situated off the first-floor living room.

Winner of the Highly Commended Best Residential Concrete Pool under $100,000 in the 2017 SPASA Victoria awards, the pool design required careful collaboration with engineers and significant steel work below to carry and disperse the loads. The pool, on the first floor of the old factory, is in a narrow inner-city street, which created access and construction challenges.

Access to the first-floor terrace was limited to the original factory entrance on the ground floor. A temporary access hole was cut into the existing terrace concrete slab above to construct the pool and a crane was also used to facilitate construction. The existing factory concrete slab had to be substantially reinforced to accommodate the suspended pool.

This included new foundations, steel columns and steel beams to the underside of the pool. Steel tubular rings were fabricated to an exact radius dimension as formwork for the pool, held in place with A-frames and lined with double layers of ply sheeting.

The existing terrace slab was waterproofed and a load-bearing drainage cell and geo-fabric liner installed, into which the pool was constructed. A floor waste was also installed under the pool in the event of any water ingress.

The pool floor was tiled in a radiating circular pattern to match the pool shape, starting from the centre with individual tiles and slowly moving out to the edge, to reference a European cobblestone street. As the pool is visible from the second level of the home, attention to detail was paramount.

The pool floor tiling alone took one week to complete, and an artisan tiler was specifically engaged to undertake this. The pool is fully tiled with cleverly designed curved steps and full inner-diameter pool seating for socialising and relaxation.

The circular paved pool terrace enhances the symmetrical pool design with large-format black stone tiles cut to reference the interior’s timber floors. All pool plumbing was installed using anti- vibration mounts to ensure there was no noise to offices below.

The pool equipment is located on an elevated platform on the level below the pool. This plant room is accessible directly from the pool by a carefully concealed manhole, hidden below one of the circular stone pavers in the garden.

The manhole is equipped with a custom-designed integrated ladder that folds down for access. The latest technology and highest-quality materials ensure ease of use and high functionality.

The energy-efficient Viron Enviro pump provides significant power savings compared to traditional pumps, and Sunbather premium solar takes advantage of the pool’s north-facing aspect. This architectural courtyard pool ticks all the boxes as a family swimming pool and stunning water feature, visible from both the interior and exterior of the home.

About Aquarius Pools

Aquarius Pools is dedicated to producing pools that will provide a lifetime of enjoyment for every customer. The company builds approximately 30 high- quality architectural concrete swimming pools each year in Victoria’s eastern and Bayside suburbs and on the Mornington Peninsula. The company is a member of SPASA Victoria and has been recognized for its innovative designs and quality workmanship with many awards over the years. Most notably, in 2016, Aquarius Pools won the most prestigious awards: gold for Pool of the Year in both the SPASA Australia and SPASA Victoria awards, and in 2017, Highly Commended Best Residential Concrete Pool under $100,000 in the SPASA Victoria awards.

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