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The Luxury of Natural Swimming Pools


OBMI architects believe that ecopools, also known as natural swimming pools, are the true realization of a healthy, environmentally friendly backyard resort. Not only does a ecopool look beautiful and seamlessly blend into its surroundings, it boasts special design, materials, and equipment that maintain the water without chemicals.

Ecopools use plants or a combination of plants and sand filters to keep the water clean and clear without chemicals. They were developed in Austria and Germany in the 1980s and have since grown in popularity worldwide. They can be designed in a multitude of ways: Some look like natural ponds; others may be disguised as standard tiled pools.

Whatever look you are trying to achieve, the principles of function are the same for both natural swimming pools and traditional ones. But ecopools are better for your hair and skin because they’re chemical free.

How They Work
Ecopools rely on a constructed wetland of plants and gravel to filter the water in an area called the regeneration zone. This zone is like a water garden; a variety of plants create an ecosystem that cleans the pool water.The regeneration zone’s size and depth are related to the volume of water to be cleaned. The planted zone is shallower than the swimming area. Clean water slowly flows from the planted zone into the swimming zone.

Space Considerations
Natural swimming pools can be small enough for an urban yard or extra large for a rural property. The relationship between the regeneration and swimming zones can also vary depending on the space available. For instance, a rectilinear pool can be designed as the swimming area, with the water circulation apparatus running underground to the regeneration zone. In the most common setup, the regeneration zone is directly adjacent to the swimming zone, as shown here, with edges that allow for a specific volume of water to flow over the edge. Generally, the size of the zones should be equal for adequate water cleansing.

Design Options
The naturalistic-style pool has a stone or gravel bottom with sloped sides. A gradually sloped edge leading to the water also creates an experience more akin to a wilderness adventure, because you can walk into the body of water. An architectural-style pool made of cast-in-place concrete with horizontal sides and stairs for entry works great as well. Aesthetically, you and your designer can create whatever look you want: an architectural pool with clean lines or a pool that looks like a natural pond.