Thursday, April 01, 2010

What Is A Vanishing Edge Swimming Pool?

The name should already be a clue as to what kind of swimming pool a vanishing edge swimming pool is. Simply defined, it is a swimming pool that produces a visual effect of water proceeding infinitely into the horizon. It's like an edgeless pool, hence it is also called by other names: disappearing edge, infinity edge, or negative edge swimming pool.

A vanishing edge swimming pool may also be likened to a reflection pool, which is often seen in a memorial. The Taj Mahal in India, the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and the Palacio da Alvorada in Brazil are some of the most famous reflection pools in the world. This is perhaps the reason why exclusive estates and exotic resorts often include a vanishing edge pool, to make their place truly memorable to visitors.

Constructing or creating this kind of pool can be very expensive. On top of an extensive architectural design, sound structural engineering is a must in its construction. The reason for this is that the pool is almost always built in such precarious settings, as a beach front or a cliff. A large portion of the total cost of constructing this kind of pool goes to the foundation systems, as should be understandable because of the nature of the site.

The edgeless characteristic of this pool is based on that specific design, in which the pool's edge actually ends in a sort of a lowhead dam, below which a channel is constructed into which, in turn, water from the pool spills. From here, the water is redirected into the pool by its efficient water circulation systems, of which there are two.

The first system works in much the same way as that of a conventional swimming pool; that is, it filters and heats the water in the main pool. The other system operates by filtering the water in the trough (the channel constructed below the lowhead dam) and sending it back to the main pool. Once this second system comes to a halt, the water level in the main pool continues to spill into the trough, stopping just at the level of the trough's wall.

The trough, therefore, should be of an appropriate size. Here, the designer's skill is put to an extreme test. There are two rather grim scenarios that may happen in case the designer fails in this aspect:

1. If the trough is too small, the swimmers will displace more water than the trough can hold. Such error can result to serious hillside erosion or landslides.

2. If the trough is too big, the edge pump may draw down the level of the trough prior to the water's return to normal quantity for the pump's retention of its prime. An overflow instance similar to that in the first scenario may also take place in such a case.

Although the usual design of a vanishing edge swimming pool makes it appear that the water from it falls into a natural body of water (an ocean or a lake, for example), there are other variations that can create an equally impressive illusion. The scenery behind some edgeless pools, for example, is that of a forest.
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