Natural Swimming Pools

This topic contains 1 reply, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Kara Smith 4 years, 7 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 39 total)
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  • #153325

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    Anyone have any experience designing natural swimming pools (NSPs) in the eastern United States? I am in the midst of designing one for a new residential project. But it’s a relatively new concept in the US and there are not a ton of resources available.

    #153363

    Kara Smith
    Participant

    Hi Miles,

    I used to work for BioNova Natural Pools. At that time, we were just really getting started with work in the US though the German headquarters had been in practice for over 2 decades. Now they have built a few residential NSPs and are working on the first public one in the states. I don’t mean to sound like a sales pitch, but what I can tell you is that it’s a pretty technical/scientific process to get the system to function properly. You might try to wing the design and construction based on whatever research you can find, but I think it would be safer (in terms of water quality) to work with an experienced company that has really refined the technology. BioNova has there are several licensed “dealer partners” in the Northeast that could do the construction and technical aspects of the NSP while working with you (the landscape architect) to get the design right if that’s the direction you wanted to go in. Either way, good luck on your project! It’s such a neat concept, I hope they become a lot more common in the US.

    #153362

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    Kara thanks for the reply. I have had some correspondence with BioNova and they also provided me with a proposal do consult on the design and construction.  It’s a fairly expensive contract, but maybe worth it.  It does seem like a fairly straight forward system, but I’m also very concerned about making sure it works, and being the one responsible for the design when it would be my first time.  Are you familiar with a UK based designer named Michael Littlewood? I have one of his books (he has a series of 3) where he encourages people to build their own and provides a good bit of technical detailing.

    #153361

    Kara Smith
    Participant

    Yeah, I knew it would be expensive. I do know of Michael Littlewood and his books -I know my boss hated them and thought they were very technically flawed and gave poor advice. Without actually having built an NSP myself, I can’t really judge. I guess your best bet would be to try to track down people who own pools built with Littlewood’s instruction and see how they function (how much algal growth, water testing results, etc. -keeping in mind that some slimy biofilm is normal.) But I’m guessing that’s exactly what you’re trying to do by posting on here!

    #153360

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    Interesting you said that. I’m finding that the book I have is not very well written and has some confusing descriptions. I’m definitely looking for more scientific guidelines.  Maybe I need to revisit the BioNova proposal. So are you using what you learned at BioNova with whatever you are doing now? Are you involved with building NSPs?

    #153359

    Kara Smith
    Participant

    No, I’m not using anything specific to natural pools now. I work for a small landscape arch/planning firm that does a lot of public sector work. I just wanted to work under an LA and get some broader experience in the field so I didn’t get pigeon-holed into pools -but I would love to get involved with NSPs (in a more technical hands-on way) again sometime in the future. It seems like they’re about to hit a turning point in the states now, especially when the first public NSP is built.

    #153358

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    Exactly. I would really like to be able to add this to my skillset. But really don’t want to have a failure the first time

    #153357

    Hello Miles;

    My only input concerning (NPS) pools…….as with ANY type of man-made pool, you are going to have “structural design” elements when designing these pools. 

    I have very extensive experience (over 30+ years designing private & commercial pools & water features)…..several hundred.  One of the most important things I learned over the years is that a “Licensed Structural Engineer” should be retained to design ALL “structural” elements of the pool.  They have the expertise with respect to soils & structural design that Landscape Architects don’t have.  Well, I realize we are taught to design “details” for just about everything we design….but, the liability that comes with “structural design” is serious business.  If a pool structure fails or a person is injured due to a defect in the structural design…someone is going to be sitting on the WRONG end of a law suit. So, I would design the pools/water features…and add a note that basically stated “All structural design elements for this pool shall be provided by a Licensed Structural Engineer”.  I specified things like pool tile, coping, plaster type/color, pool decking, shape, depth, pool safety elements, etc…and ensured that every pool design was 100% within code compliance (city & state)…also, very important, as those codes vary…but, normally the STATE code prevails over all city pool codes.

    I’ve never designed an (NSP)…..I turned over my designs to home owners and developers…and I feel sure that the pool water was treated with “chemicals”.

    Regards,

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    #153356

    Michael Boice
    Participant

    In fact, the permit process requires stamped engineered drawings in most states…NY and Ct for sure…in addition to naming licensed electricians, plumbers etc on the permit. The permit will also identify pool enclosure regulations that must appear on drawings.

    Many towns also require approved grading and drainage plans as well.

    I think your biggest challenge is with the health department; if they see something new they may really stumble you through the permit process.  You may have to become an educator for these folks to help move your project along.

    #153355

    Todd Chambers
    Participant

    Hi Miles,

    I Have been interested In this subject for a number of years but have a not had the opportunity to design or build a Natural pool.

    Attached is the information I have on constructing natural pools. Maybe it will be of some use.

    It is a great idea, good luck, please keep me abreast of your Progress.

    Todd Chambers

    #153354

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    Todd this is great. Thank you. I’m currently talking with BioNova Pools about consulting on the mechanical and biological aspects with me designing all the ‘aesthetic’ aspects. But ultimately I would like to be able to design everything myself. Just takes a client that wants one and right now I have one.

    #153353

    Goustan BODIN
    Participant

    It’s fantastic : been looking for that client for a few years now, and all my time researching the topic still cannot come to fruition. Best of luck for the process !

    In all my internet wanderings and book readings, the most useful source I found is a book written by Wolfram FRANKE : “Der Traum vom eigenen Schwimmteich“, 2004. I have the french translation, and I’m confident you can find one in english.

    It’s extremely clear under all aspects of technical details, from water quality, to construction, planting and so forth… but better than anything else, it makes this concept so clear and simple, that you can’t feel shy anymore, and feel ready to walk into the process with a degree of confidence.

    Keep us updated on your progress !

    #153352

    Janine Micunek
    Participant

    I lived in Germany for 11 years (2000-11) and worked the last 4 of those at a design/build firm that has built several of these pools: http://www.grothe-neue-gaerten.de. I also freelanced for a similar company that builds several each year: http://www.gaerten-von-gaertner.de

    It is really not that difficult, and the possibilities for design are endless. You can see a variety of styles by checking out these company websites. For starting out, it might be easiest to combine a preform pool with a biofilter system and plant filter zone rather than dealing with either concrete pools or pool liners for the swim zone.

    If you need any help with German translations, feel free to pm me.

    #153351

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    Janine thanks for the links. Tell me which menu to select on the first website to see images of natural pools. I found it on the second site.

    #153350

    Miles Barnard
    Participant

    My initial reaction to having a client interest in a NSP was that I can figure this out on my own and work with a pool contractor of my choosing to build it. But while the concept is fairly simple, the ramifications of failure are quite large. There are lots of minor details that go into having acceptable water quality and I’m more feeling like for my first NSP I want the assistance of a company or consultant that has had previous success like a BioNova.  Are some of you that have responded really feeling confident enough to be responsible for the design of all the components of a NSP? I definitely admire your confidence. What do you think?

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