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We take the ground for granted. It is that solid surface perpetually beneath our feet. What happens when that line dissolves? Our client approached us with a unique challenge. He wanted to maintain and enhance his extensive back garden while adding an indoor pool complex to his West Side estate. Pools are notorious for swallowing large portions of backyards. It became quickly apparent that this entire project had to be considered holistically. Architecture, nature, landscape, and interior had to unite as one.
The problem was set and the solution revolved around the notion of placing the pool underground while allowing the roof of the pool to form the terrace of the garden. Unfortunately the idea of a pool underground leads one to think of a dark bunker. To resolve this we wanted to bring natural light from above. This was resolved by creating a large centralized opening with skylight above. At grade terraces flow around the skylight to the garden. There are implicit references to the Roman baths in Bath where again you have a centralized opening above the water flanked by raised walkway.
In our case as you approach from a distance, all you see is a terrace with a skylight on it. It is not immediately apparent that there is any relationship other than being a structure in the garden. It is only once you get close to the skylight and look through it that you realize that what you had presumed was ground isn’t .Terra firma is questioned. You realize that below the garden lies another world hidden and what you were walking on is not what you thought it was. Alternatively, at night the hidden becomes overt. Darkness envelops the garden while the purity of the glass centre radiates a warm light that seeps from the world below.
Experientially we imagine doing the backstroke and looking up through the ground. The blue sky is framed by the skylight above. The tops of tall cedar trees that ring the perimeter of the property can be seen to almost support the pane of azure above. The semicircle of the hot tub is wrapped in a veil of stones. Falling from the ceiling around the entire perimeter is a fountain. Water washes down the stones as if they have been worn smooth from some unknown stream above.