Case Study: Building a Cold Climate Indoor Pool Structure

By Jason Smith

Building this structure required a well-thought out design from architectural, heating, ventilating and cooling equipment (HVAC) and building science perspectives. Photos courtesy MZO Group

MZO Group, an architecture firm based in Boston, Mass., was tasked with a challenging problem—design and build a residential indoor, heated pool in the often cold, snowy Massachusetts climate, a scenario that could lead to significant moisture problems.

It was challenging request, made more complicated by the fact the pool house had to be isolated from the rest of the client’s newly constructed home along a shared 10.6-m (35-ft) common wall. The design goal was to isolate the pool house from both the outdoors and the interior of the home as much as possible.

“I aimed to build a structure that you could turn upside down and it still wouldn’t leak,” says architect Eric Gjerde, MZO Group. To achieve this, a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach, with redundant safeguards against moisture problems, was used.

Building this unique structure required a well-planned design from architectural, heating, ventilating and cooling equipment (HVAC) and building science perspectives. Throughout the project, Jensen Development Corp., the homebuilder, and J&J Mechanical, the HVAC contractor, worked closely with the architects to ensure all systems would work well together.

Design considerations
Designing a heated indoor pool in a wood frame structure for a cold climate presents a unique set of challenges, as the potential for high humidity air to condense on a cold surface and cause mould or rot is high.

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