Poolside wellness

Steve Nelson of Certikin dives into one of the most crucial aspects of pool design that architects need to get right to make sure the environment is ideal for clients – the plant room

If you were planning on purchasing a sports car, the first thing you might notice is the colour, the styling and how great it looks overall. It may be a head turner, but what if the engine was not a suitable match? A car that looks fantastic, but has an engine that does not perform to expectations will not sell well, and will garner bad press and ultimately damage the company.

The same can be said for a swimming pool. You can design the most beautiful pool in the world, but if you do not size the plant room equipment correctly, you will end up with a pool that is cold and an environment which is hot and humid, making it feel uncomfortable. Or even worse, one that does not filter properly, which could result in the users getting ill.

The plant room and associated equipment are the pool’s ‘engine,’ and are therefore crucial to its successful running. Starting with the basics – the flow and return fittings which take the water to and from the pool for filtering are available in a wide range of colours and finishes. However, it is important that you have the correct number to circulate the water in a timely manner, ensuring it remains warm and chemically treated.

Then take the pump and filter, the beating heart of the plant room. These must be specified to both the correct size and power to suit the type of pool you are building. They also need to be able to cope with the capacity of bathers whilst pumping the water to and from the pool. It is not just the case that one size fits all, and you need to ensure both the pump and filter are sized correctly, otherwise everything else will fail.

No one wants to swim in a cold swimming pool, therefore the next important piece of the project to consider is the heating. As well as whether the pool is indoor or outdoor, key questions are whether it is for summer or year-round use – what water temperature does the client want? There are a lot of factors, but it is very important to get the answers to deliver the right solution.

For example, take an indoor pool with air handling to control the water and the wet humid environment. Specify this incorrectly, and you end up with windows steamed up and water running down

the walls. Get it right and it will be a climate-controlled environment that is efficient and a pleasant place to enjoy the pool. For outdoor pools, size the heating wrong and you may never get the pool to the desired temperature, and will have very disappointed clients.

When it comes to water sanitisation and the chemical balance of the pool, we all remember the old public baths or leisure centres where you would be hit with that intense smell of chemicals as you walked in. You want to avoid this, so how do we treat the water? The options are varied; do we use chlorine with constant monitoring and dosing, so the pool is always in the correct parameters. Alternatively, do you want to use salt to generate the chlorine? Or how about UV, Ozone or one of the many other methods available? There are so many choices but again it is so easy to select the wrong option and end up with a system that is not right for the pool.

Cover & maintenance
You need to carefully consider the clients’ needs in terms of the cover – for an indoor pool do they want a slatted cover with its sleek looks? Alternatively, an outdoor pool is an automatic safety cover required for peace of mind that the pool is secure and cannot be accessed by children or pets when not in use?

Once you have tackled all these important choices, it is equally key to consider how the pool will be maintained. A swimming pool is an aspirational product for spending quality time at home. After designing the most fantastic pool environment, you don’t want to ask clients to spend two hours a week looking after it when the whole idea is to spend more time as a family enjoying it. Options to consider here are automation of the heating system, chemical treatment, and cleaning of the pool: all key factors to look at when designing for minimal maintenance.

It’s advisable to look at those products that are tried and tested in the marketplace, and have survived the test of time and continue to constantly perform. This also applies if the client wants to enhance their pool space with the addition of a sauna, steam room or spa. The same criteria need to be considered as no one wants to sit in a cold sauna, a steam room with no steam or a spa without jets or bubbles.

Going back to the sports car analogy, from that first moment you saw it in the garage, to getting in for that first exhilarating drive, you want the whole experience to meet every expectation. The same aspiration is true for a swimming pool. From the first sight to that initial dive into the water, you just want it all to feel right.

Steve Nelson is commercial and international manager at Certikin