A refreshing take on island style, an outdoor eco-pool for a multi-generational family elevates this modern home to a tranquil oasis. Designed a decade ago by Randall Racinos, the modern L-shaped home was built with two separate wings to connect the family of four with their (grand)mother. Built into a valley, the south-west facing property exists in its own micro-climate, boasting three hot seasons from spring to fall.
Originally designed for an outdoor pool by Racinos, after ten years of living in the house, the rectangular patch of grass was ready for a metamorphosis. Recommended by friends, JC Scott, of JC Scott eco Design, is credited with transforming the front yard into an outdoor luxury retreat. Committed to the 100-mile design ethos and sustainability, as an accomplished pool designer, Scott employed current innovations and energy efficient strategies to maximize the natural processes of nature.
Designed for exercise and cooling recreation, the sparkling turquoise pool is exactly 10 metres long. Wide enough for games and a deep end for adults, the family wanted a big pool for swimming that would also be a beautiful reflecting surface when unheated and not in use. “We wanted to look out from the pool to the trees, sky and fields that surround the house,” says the homeowner. A more involved project than strictly a pool design, the clients requested Scott integrate the pool with the existing deck which had to be redone with a non-slip surface.
With both wings of the house overlooking the pool, Scott created an inviting focal point for the outdoor living area. To capitalize on the spectacular view and provide extra seating for relaxing poolside, Scott designed a naturally cool, white marble bench all the way around the pool. “Guests can sit on the cool marble, swing their legs over the edge and put their feet on a ledge without committing to going in,” says Scott. The client adds that “the pool has just the right blue; we are so happy with the colour they achieved.”
Scott states that the two main goals of the design were to “build the pool exactly where the lawn was located in order to maintain the original design of the deck” and secondly, “to capitalize on the property’s natural heat to create solar hot water.” Using a heat pump exchanger, Scott adds that, “natural heat becomes the energy driver to keep the pool costs reasonable.” Familiar with solar grants and certified, grant worthy installers, Scott registered the project and received the maximum solar incentive grant.
Bringing the water close to the top of the pool, Scott designed the effect of a vanishing edge without creating an actual vanishing edge pool. “All pools are evaporating, but continual moving and falling water in a vanishing edge pool causes the water to evaporate at a faster rate and creates more cooling, putting more demand on the solar hot water heat pump system. For eco-energy reasons, we decided to not go with the vanishing edge,” states Scott.
Originally designed with an hydronic heating system, Scott managed to tie the home’s solar hot water system into the home’s entire heating system. Combining the heat pump with the solar hot water system allows the family to use the energy to heat the home in the winter and to heat the pool in the summer months. An air-to-air heat pump extracts heat from the air and then transfers heat to either the inside or outside of your home depending on the season. “Used in this house to augment their entire house system, the air-to-air heat pump is one of the quickest payback energy devices. The most efficient method for solar hot water we have in Canada today, solar tubes on the roof allow for movement of the sun without movement of the panel,” Scott says.
Adhering to his 100-mile design ethos, Scott kept his design virtually 100% local. Working with local pool company,Nautilus Pool Service and local energy company, Island Energy, both of whom have decades of combined experience in pools and energy, helped to make the project grant worthy. “I used Vancouver Island, Port Renfrew sourced, slate veneer to face the perimeter of the pool which blends with the environment and reflects the home’s natural surroundings,” says Scott.
Perfect for this design, and mimicking waves splashing onto a beach, Vancouver Island Marble’s, ‘west coast wave’ marble, encase the columns that bring the solar hot water down from the roof. Local red cedar surrounds the pool for an authentic west coast feel. “Virtually all materials and suppliers were local except for the pavers that were made in Abbotsford, but we had them installed by 5-Star Paving, a local patio company,” adds Scott.
Given that the length of the pool is on the cliff side of the property, Scott gave this project a high rating on the design challenge scale. “I have a lot of experience with both indoor and outdoor pool design, and given the variability of sites, outdoor pools are always more challenging. This particular pool was on the edge of a cliff and set on fill so it required extremely careful engineering. To avoid disturbing the compacted fill and rocks under the pool, we had to excavate very carefully in order to continue moving the pool down by mere inches.”
“Thanks to JC’s experience with pools, he looked at the project and immediately thought to raise the pool up about 16 inches so we could excavate deep enough without hitting rock,” says the homeowner. She adds that “JC thought of things we would never have considered; he is very creative and so much fun to work with. One of the features we love most is the beautiful marble seat that surrounds the whole pool; it looks great and is very useful. The checkerboard tile pattern has a very clean, classic look. We absolutely love the pool and swim daily now that it is heated. Our expectations were definitely fulfilled and with less stress than we expected.”