A walk through the complex of magic fountains in Astana

Magic curtains, colored lights, water that moves to the rhythm of music and that shoots up into the sky with the power of a natural geyser. Blasts of flames and amazing shafts of light. The innovative technology behind the fountains in Astana (Kazakhstan) is just one of the latest advances in the complex that staged the 2017 Expo on the future of energy. Would you like to take a walk with us to see this fountain up close?

This exhibit, devoted to the most innovative technology, attracted four million visitors who were greeted by a monumental fountain that danced to magical music designed by AstralPool. Just a few technical details will give an idea of its monumental size: a surface area of 2,630 m2, a water volume of 1,618 m3, 12 kilometers of power cables and a network of 8 kilometers of piping. What’s more, its almost unlimited combinations of light and color, and a total of 200 lights can create 16 million colors!

Magical fountains designed by Astralpool

That’s not all! This magic fountain has a number of jets: vertical, dancing and rocket jets that shoot out the water an explosive 30 meters from the ground. AstralPool has even included a completely safe device  able to shoot colored flames into the air alongside the water. A unique customized set-up designed with a groundbreaking filtration, disinfection and software control system.

It is also possible to walk around the magic fountain of Astana up to a raised bridge on which the sheer power of the water can be felt and the light show seen. It will still be possible to visit the complex in 2018, when it will also stage projects for smart lighting systems, geographic information systems, and various publicly or privately funded schemes.

Would you like to discover other wonderful fountains by AstralPool? Don’t miss The Cool Pool post on which we discuss the latest trends in fountain design!

Meet Guillaume Néry, world freediving champion

With just one breath and using muscle strength only, French freediver Guillaume Néry can plunge to a depth of 410 feet. With his multiple world achievements and through an astonishing combination of elite sport and video art, Néry has promoted the immensity of nature, showing that the human body has an enormous capacity to adapt to water and sharing the profound values he has learnt on the seabed.

His video Free Fall, which shows him leaping into the void inside Dean’s Blue Hole, the largest in the world and 663 feet deep, captures the beauty and mystery of this bay in the Bahamas. The viral video, recorded by his wife Julie Gautier, has been seen 26 million times on YouTube but as the couple said on US TV show Outrageous Acts of Science, “The idea wasn’t to touch the bottom but to create an art film different to what we usually see beneath the water, redefining limits and seeking to dive as deep as possible”.

The magic of freediving

In addition to being a multiple constant weight freediving champion, Néry has absolute control of body over mind in the most extreme conditions and says that holding his breath helps him stop thinking and enter a state of complete peace and relaxation.

For Néry, diving becomes a type of conquest of the universe and gives him access to an unknown and unexplored space. In his TED talk The Exhilarating Peace of Freediving, he said of his experience at the seabed at a depth of 403 feet without oxygen equipment: “I feel like a small dot, a speck of dust, stardust, floating in the middle of the cosmos, in the middle of nothing, in the immensity of space. It’s a fascinating sensation, because when I look up, down, left, right, in front, behind, I see the same thing: the infinite deep blue.”

Diving also lets him connect with other values, such as humility, acceptance of the present moment and respect for his crew: “When I find myself at these depths… I’m a little speck of nothingness lost in all of time and space. And it … is absolutely fascinating.”

Don’t miss the video in which Guillaume Néry explores the Y40 pool, the deepest pool in the world, in a unique dive with no scuba equipment!

A pool in the Apulia countryside

The architecture of the past is perfectly recognizable in this hotel establishment located just a few kilometers away from Ostuni, commonly known as the white town of Brindisi, in the heart of the Apulia countryside. It took Andrew Trotter three years to get to the bottom of local traditions to come up with the design of this luminous box where everything has been built around a patio. Once inside, one is taken aback by its fantastic pool that sits in a landscape planted with impressive olive trees more than 500 years old.

Thick walls, domed ceilings, stone floors and whitewashed walls keep the rooms cool during the hottest days of the year. The architectural details are so simple that they create the ideal setting for switching off and relaxing in every corner without a care in the world. This hotel has six rooms of 24 to 45 square meters and they all have a private garden or terrace with views of the countryside.

The air conditioning is not in great demand in this building, and the solar panels provide enough power for its lighting and heating. The farmhouse hotel has its own source of water: a well that provides a constant flow of fresh water to cover all needs.

Piscina Puglia

Masseria Moroseta was built to zero mile standards, which characterizes all pieces of architecture. As one would expect in line with this philosophy, all of the food and drink served at the hotel is either grown by the owners of the hotel or bought from local farmers, producers and artisans.

The food, the social life, the daily rituals, proper physical exercise, and making the most of the fresh air and sun Form the basis of this unique business. It has a 200-year-old stone oven, perfect for roasting meat and vegetables, and in October the owners encourage guests to prick the olives on the estate.

The establishment also runs a full range of spa services to be enjoyed alone or in company. Oriental rituals, exfoliation, detox and anti-aging treatments with the help of a few Mediterranean plants from the hotels farmland are just some of the options available. Other guests choose to come on a yoga retreat at this dream farmhouse.

Piscina entre olivos

Photographs: © Salva López

An old farmhouse with a natural pool

Cork oaks, holm oaks and pine trees characterise the Catalan landscape of Les Gaverres Nature Reserve where Barcelona-based outfit Zest Architecture has redeveloped a former farmhouse. The work in this ideal hiking spot needed to respect the original building due to town-planning regulations and successfully reinterpreted and adapted it to modern times, integrating it carefully into the beautiful setting.

The farm’s walls were made from stone, heavy like the rest of the vernacular architecture in the area. The new property opens up the façades and lets the natural light in through the timber windows framed in deep-set corten steel boxes. The visual contact between the newly generated building and the environment has been boosted to enrich the space.

Adapted to the terrain, the new property allows access to the garden from different levels. The bedrooms have been put downstairs. The living areas are upstairs. From here you can access the pool which runs the length of an extension of the land in the garden. The water is recycled through a biological purification system and later used for watering the garden. The natural pool is designed to be free of chlorine and other chemicals, as plants and gravel filter and clear the water.

The house was designed to Passivhaus criteria, making the property a very low energy consumption home. The architects have added good heat insulation in the form of cork, a material harvested naturally in the area. Inside, the property has been finished with clay rendering. It has not been painted but rather left with the natural material exposed. The pavements are made from polished concrete blended with oxide and finished with beeswax. The house has a geothermal installation to produce hot water and heating and is completed with cool flooring for summer.

This country home, which you can see in the following video, is perfect for relaxing in!

Photos: © Jesús Granada

High-contrast pools

The popularity of coloured pools with a surprise effect is set to grow in 2018. Today we showcase some of the most creatives ideas demonstrating that a pool is no longer just a place for wellbeing but also a setting for enjoying art at home.

Pools inspired by nature

Throughout his career, architect Luis Barragán was keen for pool water to project the colours of sunlight, the texture of multicoloured walls, the trees in a courtyard or the sky itself: from grey to violet and blue on the brightest days. His work constantly sought to make gardens into homes and homes into gardens. For Casa Gilardi, Barragán put a blue and red pool next to a solid-timber rustic table, suggesting that it can be just as inspiring as the greatest work of art.

Maximum saturation

The latest colour trends are present in the majority of the works of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. His pools make free play of colour contrasts such as pink with yellow or purple to create a warm and happy vibe.

Mediterranean pools

This Latin cross-shaped pool at the La Muralla Roja complex (Calpe, Alicante) by Ricardo Bofill has been the scene of numerous ad campaigns. His crimson pool in Mont-Ras (Costa Brava) is another key benchmark in this trend.

Conceptual pools

At the conceptual resort The Library (Thailand), the yellow and red mosaic pool tiles contrast with the red umbrellas and turquoise sea on the horizon. This space is an example of how to experience art inside water in a totally unique way.

To add colour to a pool without having to do any work to it you can install remote-controlled wireless lamps and light points to make your pool a place for wellbeing in addition to a space dedicated to creativity and surprise.

Photos: Cuadra San Cristóbal (Luis Barragán); Onnis Luque-Casa Gilardi (Luis Barragán); Deezen-Casa Kona (Ricardo Legorreta); Legorreta + Legorreta- Adrenaline House (Ricardo Legorreta); The Vandalist – Mont-Ras family home (Ricardo Bofill); Ricardo Bofill- The Library; The Library.


Villa K, swimming on the edge of Thuringian Forest

We turn to the Paul de Ruiter Architects studio for an excellent example of a sustainable family home. The Dutch outfit has just designed and built Villa K in Germany, a commission which, above all else, sought a discreet result integrated in the natural environment.

And that is what they got: a clean and transparent south-facing parallelepiped body carefully positioned on the hillside to make it possible to project from under the large base platform a body perpendicular to it which houses the pool. Behind it, another body lies flat against the hillside itself and contains, in a more closed fashion, the installations, i.e., a storage area and a spacious garage with room for six cars.

The materials were chosen with care. The glass of the main volume helps make the body disappear into the setting, as it reflects the sky and forest that can be seen from all around. In addition to eliminating the feeling of a built volume, it provides for stunning views across the valley both from the inside and from the terrace which runs the length of the property from east to west. This large terrace is broken in the middle by a partially covered atrium cutting the house from north to south and marking the access and connection between the home and the service spaces below the hill.

This perpendicular axis to the hillside separates the indoor space functionally, as well as formally drawing a great deal of attention to the pool. Elevating the terrace over the pool is a subtle gesture that makes it possible to swim from the heart of the home to the furthest point away from it. Perfectly blending in with this nod to the landscape, the villa was built to make it heat-efficient. The glass façade is parallel to the hillside and the auxiliary quarters under it. The south-facing glass wall receives a great deal of natural sunlight and heat, whilst the underground quarters keep in the cold.

A heat exchanger fitted in the villa runs the the home’s heating system. It is connected to a cooling ceiling system and an underfloor heating system, which ensures the temperature is pleasant all year around. A computer system monitors both of these systems

Photographs: © Pieters Kers & Patrick Voigt

Discover the shark pool in the LEGO House

The LEGO House, recently opened in the centre of Billund, Denmark, is an amazing life-size construction built using 25 million plastic LEGO bricks in which nothing is what it seems. In total, 21 spaces in the shape of superimposed blocks invite children and adults to explore them through play and their imagination. The house of the Danish toy brand was designed by the BIG firm of architects to showcase the infinite possibilities of LEGO bricks.

In the pool of the LEGO house there is a submarine that has run aground, menacing sharks with their jaws wide open and surf boards that move across the shark-infested waters. “This is what kids do every day with LEGO bricks and this is what we have done in the LEGO House as it stands, thus making Billund closer to becoming the kids’ capital”, explained Bjarke Ingels, the founding partner of the BIG firm of architects.

The building sits on a public playground of 2,000 m2 that is lit up by the cracks between each of the volumes. Blocks and galleries have been arranged on this square that are colour-coded in LEGO’s primary colours to signal the themes staged there. As the team entrusted with the project explained, this means that “finding your way through the exhibitions becomes a journey through the colour spectrum”.

In the LEGO House, a huge multicoloured cascade bursts into the Red zone, devoted to creativity, to form bubbles and foam made of coloured bricks. The underwater world is present throughout the tour, especially in the Yellow zone, designed to explore emotions. Here, fish, octopuses and jellyfish swim among the marine vegetation and a coral reef completely made of LEGO bricks in an enormous aquarium.

At The Cool Pool we love the block scheme! Would you like to find out about another amazing house designed with two impressive longitudinal volumes?

Pictures Iwan Baan

A pool over the horizon of Tarifa

James&Mau is a firm of architects that also founded Infiniski, a green concept construction company. It has now made a modular home of unbeatable quality a reality, both in terms of architecture and eco-friendliness. Although the sea is not very close to the plot, thanks to its high position on a slope and the way the building has been arranged as if it were a viewpoint, spectacular views of the magnificent horizon can be seen from Casa Tarifa. On a foundation wall that goes around the house, one of the living spaces was left empty where the architects built in a swimming pool. The overall composition is reminiscent of the typical country houses found in Andalusia.

The house is divided into six rooms. Each of them is closed off to form a single volume perfectly discernible from the rest. This distribution was proposed by the client, who was looking for something more than just a house. The outdoor spaces between the “boxes” can be turned into livable spaces that can be used for a myriad of purposes: eating in the shade, resting on a comfortable sofa or just looking at the sea in the distance.

The whole building is covered by a steel mesh pergola, which makes it possible to control the effects of the sun in summer and the weather in winter, thus conferring a prime level of comfort on the home.

The importance of water in the house

The house is rich in passageways and in views of the surrounding landscape, but one feature takes pride of place: the pool. Measuring 15 metres in length and 4 metres wide, it sits at the foot of the house to blend in with the livable spaces and provide an attractive background for the plants in front of it. In addition, parts of it are found between the home’s rooms. Little by little, the house has taken over the surroundings so that it feels part of the landscape.

There is a strong presence of water throughout this project. It can be seen from almost every corner of the house. Even lying in bed in the master bedroom. Almost as significant was the choice of the industrial-like construction. An increasingly more common strategy, it keeps costs, the building time and environmental pollution down. Casa Tarifa is a magnificent example of respect for architecture in every dimension: its compositional and constructive rigour, and its clear commitment to protecting the planet. Sheep’s wool was used as insulation and the interior walls were covered in cellulose fibre and natural plaster. The house is heated using biomass and the water using solar panels. Neither chlorine nor other chemical products are used for treating and purifying the pool water. Each water inlet between the house´s volumes form a pond that contains aquatic plants for purifying the water.


Photographs: © Erika Mayer www.erikamayer.at

An aquatic centre in the stunning French Alps

Courchevel, a ski resort in Tarentaise Valley (Savoie), is also an ideal place to practice this quintessential winter sport in a spot in the French Alps where you can enjoy all the fine qualities of water.

In tiered countryside of a typically Alpine nature, the Aquamotion Aquatic Center has occupied a platform with stunning views over the valley and mountain panorama since 2015, when it was established as an architectural showpiece that with every gesture sought integration with the landscape.

The big challenge for the architects from German studio Auer Weber, with French outfit Studio Arch as the associate team, was to deliver two well-differentiated areas in terms of functionality under a single roof. The areas had to also be separated into two floors. On the one hand they were to design a leisure zone and on the other a relaxation and rest area. It all had to be housed under one large continuous element that would deliver a fluid use of the facilities and capture the beauty of the surroundings. While the facilities are located half-underground, the large vault appears as a giant shell that emerges from the land and protects the interior. This continuous element, measuring 80 metres wide and 120 metres long, also reflects the light inside and into all the corners. The architects also designed an intermittent series of shells to insert in the vault and provide new views from inside.

The dome soars in some points to up to 17 metres, making this project a major exercise in structural balance which was possible with the partnership with of team Bollinger + Grohmann.  The building becomes a large sculpture of spaces and light. This overhang gesture allows the building to open up and communicate with the Alpine setting while trapping an enormous amount of natural light thanks to the glassed-in facades that enclose the interior space. It is a breath-taking experience to enjoy the water in this aquatic centre with a green blanket around you in summer which turns white in winter.

The indoor facilities include 30 and 100-metre waterslides, a diving pool, a lake, an indoor pool and an outdoor facility. A children’s pool with a colourful seashell greets kids in the heart of the complex. Various complementary services complete this aquatic paradise: a dark cavern with a saltwater pool, a massage centre with a variety of treatments and a space that opens onto the saunas and Turkish baths, as well as a cold-water outdoor pool.

Each corner with a unique and specific design. An underground connection from the aquatic centre to the car park affords maximum guest comfort.

Photos: © Aldo Amoretti, Barcelona, Spain www.aldoamoretti.com

Maria Svarbova, vintage pool photographer

In Slovak photographer Maria Svarbova’s works, swimmers prepare to enter a pool, play in the water, wait on the edge of a start’s block or sit on a poolside bench. Her photos of bathers in colourful swimming caps in Soviet-era swim centres have sparked interest across the worlds of art and fashion.

Svarbova’s work has appeared in magazines and newspaper inserts including El País, The Guardian, Vogue Italia, Harper’s Bazaar, Forbes and Cosmopolitan, among others. Her compositions leverage symmetry to explore the human body and feelings such as melancholy and absence. Despite studying restoration and archaeology, she chose photography as her means of artistic expression in 2010 and has since strived to create images in public spaces where she portrays leisure time in a pool.

A pastel palette and minimalism are two of Svarbova’s big passions. She is also drawn to fashion and chooses the swimwear, which she often finds in markets close to the municipal pools where the photo sessions are held, with care.

Maria Svarbova uses photo retouching programmes that make all her characters look the same and hauntingly still while they observe their reflection in the water. Her oeuvre has numerous followers on social networks – in fact, Instagram is one of the platforms she uses to promote her images, in which it looks like time has stopped just before getting into a pool.

Her singular take on the simplicity of life saw her win first prize in the category of conceptual and advertising photography at The International Photography Awards, an event aimed at promoting top photographers and emerging new talents.