By Michael Willis
There has never been a more lucrative era than the present to be a professional working in the outdoor living industry. In all sectors of the trade—from pool construction to landscaping—the degree of intricate and creative designs are impressive. The pool industry has seen expedited growth and much of it can be attributed to human nature and the need to take time to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate. Today, many lead lives that are structured around earning an income and balancing time with family and friends. For some, making it through the workweek can be a stressful, hectic struggle. That said, the goal for most homeowners investing in an outdoor living project is to create a space for relaxation and serenity, a place in the backyard where one can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For pool builders, the big selling point is this retreat is obtainable for many homeowners just by taking a few steps out their backdoor.
Designing and building a custom home with a complementing backyard oasis ranks high on the bucket list for many homeowners. For one couple in Ottawa, Ont., this was their main objective. Although they had a moderately clear vision of what features they desired for their future home, the difficult task was finding the ideal location to build it.
After a lengthy search, they came upon some real estate for sale located along Ottawa’s historic Rideau Canal. The couple knew immediately this was their dream location. At the time of purchase, the large waterfront property featured an outdated bungalow perched above the waterway surrounded by overgrown and unmaintained landscaping.
Realizing the existing home was not salvageable or fitting of their vision, they decided to tear it down. Once the house was knocked down, the property essentially became a blank canvas for which the couple could start designing their future home. As part of this process, it was important the home met all of their ‘wants and needs.’ Further, it had to be built with quality materials and engineered to last, while at the same time the home had to reflect their individual taste and style.
One of the largest required components of the project was designing and building a pool and hot tub. As outdoor pools typically have a shorter season, this client opted for an indoor pool that would provide them year-round enjoyment. That said, the client wanted to incorporate the openness of an outdoor pool into the conveniences of an indoor design. Continuity between the interior and exterior spaces was essential, as was the need for both to appear as though they blended seamlessly.
The client had extensive experience designing and engineering commercial structures, but this would be their first venture into residential construction. Despite knowing the approximate dimensions and layout of the rooms in the home, and how the client wanted them to interact with each other, transforming their vision into reality required a team of knowledgeable and talented designers, contractors, and craftspeople. Enter Malcolm Wildeboer, an architect with Vandenberg & Wildeboer in Ottawa. His firm specializes in designing unique spaces that are respectful of the environment and reflect the character and needs of their clients.
His vision consisted of a stunning design, drawing influence from renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his iconic Prairie Style architecture. Subtle nods to one of the world’s greatest architects are visible with the home’s low-pitched rooflines, large overhanging eaves, and heavy use of glass openings. The inspired details continue within the home’s kitchen, and living and dining rooms, which merge to form a unified space with large windows to enhance the sightlines and create ‘infinity views’ from many vantage points. By incorporating this detail, the home almost appears to blend into its natural surroundings.
The indoor pool design was treated with the same approach, as it too shares brilliant ‘infinity’ viewpoints from the home. The concept was to have an aquatic feature that would be functional year-round without appearing like a traditional indoor pool. To achieve this, large floor-to-ceiling glass panels were used on three sides of the pool enclosure. These glass sections, each measuring 3 x 1.8 m (10 x 6 ft), open the pool area to the exterior landscaped patios and sitting areas. This helped blur the boundary between the interior and exterior spaces, while at the same time creating an open-concept layout that would give the homeowner the feeling of always being outdoors.
By walking out any of the openings, they can easily access one of the natural stone-paved patios, which flow from one side of the home to the other. Extending this transition further, the pool design incorporates an infinity edge (vanishing edge). When viewing the pool from inside the home—with the glass panels open or closed—there is a seamless transition between it and the adjacent natural body of water abutting the property. This offers the homeowner a view that very few waterscapes can rival, while the pool’s reflective qualities and mirror-like surface result in a striking appearance. A sleek, perimeter-overflow hot tub was positioned to one side of the pool to take advantage of one of the property’s best vantage points.