In Andalucía, they build the pools first. Not when a large building company is involved, but in the old way, by which every member of the extended family lends a helping hand, brick by brick. They do it on weekends over a long period of time, and they always build the pool first, because life itself is a party in old Andalucía. Sometimes we have a lot to learn about the priorities of life.
Article by Vivion O’Kelly
The UDesign/BRIGHT partnership, of course, take a more rational approach when it comes to building methodology, but they know, just as the country people of Andalucía know, that the pool, especially over the long summer period, often becomes the real social centre of the house. Its importance as such cannot be overstated, and in Vista Lago, just as in all projects undertaken by this award-winning partnership, the design of the pool is as essential to the overall result as is any other key part of the house.
In the interests of visual harmony, all 18 Vista Lago villas share a basic design aesthetic, but each has been designed separately and each is unique. So too are their swimming pools, each designed as part of each house. The commonality they share, apart from overall design excellence, is their closeness to the villa itself, to such an extent that they make an indivisible design entity.
There are both practical and aesthetic reasons for this. On a practical level, one wants the shortest distance possible between the pool and the main terrace, and aesthetically, one wants a pool that looks part of the house, rather than a whimsical afterthought or a feature added on because there was space in the garden and the weather gets hot in summer.
In a way, the swimming pool in a Vista Lago villa takes the place of the ancient Moorish water feature, usually a fountain in an artificial pond inside the central courtyard of the classic cortijo. Water was life, and the sound of water was the sound of life. It helped cool the air, and the sight and sound of it soothed the soul. If the concept of swimming pools had existed in Moorish times, the local builders would certainly have incorporated pools into the design of the villas they built.
As standard design, the terraces of a Vista Lago house are an extension of the inside, and the pool is very much part of the terrace. At no more than a few steps away from the main seating area, it is as level with the floor as splashing allows, and all Vista Lago pools are truly infinitive, meaning there is no physical barrier between the pool surface, the sea, and the sky.
The pools in Vista Lago are large in relation to the built areas. This may be especially beneficial to serious swimmers who use the pool for exercise, but that is not the principal reason for their large size. Water is beautiful, and water reflects architectural beauty. Water is one of the key elements in any Vista Lago home, and its pool would be one of its most desirable features even if never used for swimming in.
The steps into the pool from the main terrace are hidden beneath the water’s surface and run the full length or width of the pool, depending on individual design. All pools are true infinity pools, with some designed to fit into an L-shape created by the building itself, thereby making for infinity views to the front – as in all the villas, of course – and one on the other side. All parts of the pool’s infrastructure are well hidden from view.
We cannot discuss pool design in Vista Laga without reference to the terraces, which form a single visual unit with the pool. The slopes upon which each villa has been built ensure clear views to the Mediterranean and North Africa, and seen from the terrace, there appears to be nothing between the villa and the long-distance view, despite the ample gardens. Indeed, sitting on a sofa or even having breakfast in the kitchen, one looks out to see the reflected sky on the infinity pool merge with the sea and the horizon.
The terraces, in turn, form a visual extension of the ground floor, designed in such a way, especially with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, that knowing precisely when one is inside or outside the house is difficult to say. And when the weather becomes unfriendly, as it sometimes does in Southern Spain, the house can be sealed against the elements in an instant without any barriers to the views. A simplified explanation of the design philosophy of a Vista Lago villa would be “lounge, terrace, pool, sea.”
Terrace lighting is pool lighting in Vista Lago villas, providing the immediate outdoor space with a spectacle of light as attractive by night as by day, all fully adjustable by state-of-the-art lighting systems. Light sensors are used in all outside lighting.
To sum up, each Vista Lago swimming pool has been designed as an integral part of the structure of each villa, making a single architectural unit that is both pleasing to the eye and eminently practical. We do not expect that many future Vista Lago villa owners will join in the sometimes-tragic Tarzan-and-Jane practice of leaping from the balconies into the pool below, but if such an activity were to happen (one never knows), this would be the best place to do it. Our vision is different: a life of style and leisure around the swimming pool, making the most of the best that exceptional architectural design can provide.