Technology continues to advance in the commercial and residential pool markets, as there are always new products, technologies, and design methods being introduced. Some of the design options and products that will be discussed are not necessarily new to the industry, but thanks to new technologies and innovations, they continue to make an impression on clients who realize they need to have them in their aquatic facilities.
Further, as many of these items become more refined and more clients buy them, costs have come down over the years, allowing more designers/builders to incorporate them in any new and/or renovation projects.
One of the hottest features of late is climbing walls. These apparatus are increasingly being added to existing pools, as well as included on many new pool installations. They are a relatively new option for pools even though people have been climbing on artificial rock walls for years. It was not until recently that designers started placing these climbing walls along the edge of the pool.
These products provide another option for bathers to enjoy the pool, while getting in some exercise as well. There are a few manufacturers offering these products, which are available in several colours, as well as clear panel configurations, and in heights of up to 3.6 m (12 ft). The required minimum water depth is typically 2.4 m for a 3.6-m (12-ft) wall. Shorter walls are available for shallower pools. Climbing walls should always be installed according to manufacturer recommendations.
Tanning ledges are also becoming quite popular, as they expand the use of the pool. Typically, these areas have 305 mm (12 in.) of water or less, which makes them perfect for setting up a lounge chair or a place where bathers can simply lay in the shallow water to soak up the sun.
They are also great for young children and the family dog. They are commonly found on today’s prefabricated fibreglass pool options, and can be easily incorporated into concrete pool designs. In fact, most concrete pools can be easily renovated to include a tanning ledge and many clients are now doing this.
LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE (LED) LIGHTING
LED lighting technology has become much more affordable and refined in the last five years and, in fact, is now the standard. The colour and operational options available are quite expansive, including the ability to control the lights using a smartphone app.
There are also removable battery-powered options available that are good for smaller pool applications. LED lights last longer than incandescent bulbs and will save an aquatic facility on hydro costs.
Fire bowls are now more affordable than in the past and are being included in new construction designs more than ever. Fire features are available in a wide range of configurations and work well to enhance the pool’s surrounding environment. They make for an exhilarating bathing experience, especially when swimming at night.
Movable floor systems are not necessarily new, but are still gaining traction in new residential and commercial construction projects. These floors allow program offerings at aquatic facilities to be much more flexible as the pool depth can be adjusted accordingly.
For instance, programs for new parents and their tots are now possible, as the floor can be raised to any depth instead of the standard 1-m (3-ft) shallow end. Then, it can be moved back down to a 0.6-m (2-ft) depth for youngsters aged four to six who are learning to swim, but still want to be able to touch the floor and stand.
For residential applications, the same benefits apply, including the ability to fully raise the floor to eliminate the chance of anyone falling into the pool while the homeowner is away or when the pool is not being used. The pool floor can be raised to create more useable space as well.
Beach-entry pools are now the standard in commercial construction. This design comprises a sloped entry that allows accessibility for everyone, a necessity on public pools for several reasons. Having an accessibility lift is also an option; however, a beach entry allows someone in a wheelchair, the elderly, or small children to enter the pool effortlessly.
Similar to movable floors, beach-entry pools offer more options for young children learning to swim or those who just want to cool off on a hot summer day.
Splash pads are all the rage, with new toys and accessories becoming available all the time. Municipalities and campgrounds—not to mention kids—love them as they provide a great option for people to cool off without the need for a lifeguard. As there is no standing water, the risk of drowning is essentially eliminated. However, parental supervision is still a must. With drain away and recirculation options available, splash pads can almost be installed anywhere.
A drain-away design typically makes use of low-flow water features at a location where low- to medium-usage is expected. Water simply drains into the municipal sewage system, or into an underground holding tank where it is used for grey water purposes, typically lawn watering, with an overflow to sanitary built into the system.
A recirculating system also uses an underground holding tank where water is pumped through the filtration and sanitizing system to the water features. The water then drains back into the holding tank to be circulated again all-season long.
AUTOMATIC POOL COVERS
Automatic pool covers are also gaining ground in the commercial and residential market. Similar to other products of late, these too can be controlled by the owner and/or facility manager via smartphone. This controllability is not only convenient, but also offers many safety and time-saving benefits.
There are some restrictions with respect to shapes, however. If the pool is a freeform design, it needs to be sunken down to allow the cover track to be installed above the top of the pool wall. Essentially, a freeform pool still has to have a rectangular cover, if it is automatic.