Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to swim at the top of a waterfall? Now you can find out, thanks to the phenomenon known as the infinity pool. This highly luxurious pool design is becoming a favourite with celebrities and luxury hotels all over the world, but it is now possible for anyone to have a backyard infinity pool in Australia.
Here is everything you need to know about infinity swimming pools, to enable you to make up your mind whether this is the type of pool you want for yourself.
About the infinity edge pool
What is an infinity pool? It is a swimming pool which appears to have no edge on one side, so the water cascades off the edge of the pool, creating a waterfall effect. This is a pretty spectacular sight, as the water’s edge blends with the horizon, making your pool feel like a natural place to swim, as if you are floating at the top of a waterfall. It gives you the perfect vantage point for looking over your surroundings, enabling you to take in the constant buzz of the city or enjoy the peaceful setting of the country landscape, in your own private space. This secluded pool setting combined with the sound of rushing water cascading over the infinity edge creates a haven of peace and calm, which is something many pool owners treasure.
Sometimes referred to as a negative edge pool, wet edge pool or edgeless pool, the infinity pool has soared in popularity in recent years, mainly due to viral videos online. The most famous example is the iconic rooftop pool at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, which really kick-started the global conversation about infinity pools, making many people wonder how they could create an edgeless pool of their own.
How infinity pools are constructed
Infinity pools involve some extremely innovative engineering. For a start, they are almost always built on a slope, to offer the best vantage point over the surrounding scenery. Some sites slope naturally, so the pool can be built completely inground, which saves a certain amount of preparatory work being done. This also makes infinity pools a good choice for sloping sites where installing a regular pool can be difficult.
However, if the site does not slope naturally, a slope has to be created for the pool to work. This involves building some or all of the pool above ground, so the pool has to be strengthened underneath so it can hold the weight of the water and its occupants. Because of this, there are only two materials strong enough for constructing an infinity pool: concrete or fibreglass. Concrete pools are always constructed from scratch onsite, so a concrete infinity pool will be built as one complete structure, including the strengthening underneath. Fibreglass pools are different because the pool shells are made in factories in a range of standard shapes and sizes, so to create a fibreglass infinity pool, an additional structure has to be created which fits underneath the pool shell to strengthen it so it can be built on a slope.
The infinity edges of the pool are created in a particularly clever way. Infinity pools appear to be missing one or more pool walls, which is why they are sometimes known as edgeless pools. However, the pool walls are still there – they are simply built to a lower height, so they meet the water level rather than rising above it. The infinity edge is also built so it slopes outwards at an angle to the pool, which causes the water to cascade over the edge like a waterfall.
Where does the excess water go?
This part of the infinity pool design is extremely clever. The water which falls over the infinity edge of the pool cannot just fall onto the ground below, as this would be wasteful and extremely dangerous, especially in an urban area. Because of this, an additional, smaller pool, called a holding tank, is built below the infinity edge of the pool. This is another reason why infinity pools need to be built on sloping sites, so the holding tank cannot be seen from in or around the pool itself.
The holding tank holds around one-third of the water capacity of the main pool. It catches the water which cascades over the infinity edge, and pumps it back up into the main pool, so the water is continuously being recycled. There is no wastage and no danger, and the effect is a beautiful pool with a luxurious, relaxing look and feel. The extensive engineering involved is literally invisible while you are using the pool, showing that it is doing its job perfectly.
What does an infinity pool cost?
The infinity pool design is an ingenious feat of pool engineering, and one which takes considerable experience and knowledge to complete. This means it costs considerably more than a regular swimming pool, as it must be designed and constructed by a specialist. However, as all sites are different, and people differ widely in what they want from their infinity pools, it is difficult to give a realistic cost estimate.
The cost will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Your site. The natural slope, shape and size of your property will dictate how much preparatory work needs to be done before the pool can be built.
- The material. Concrete pools always tend to be more expensive than fibreglass pools, as they have to be constructed from scratch. However, if you want a fibreglass infinity pool, this involves a considerable amount of work, as a standard pool shell has to be adapted so an infinity edge can be created, so the cost can sometimes be comparable depending on your individual needs.
- Whether you want more than one infinity edge. If you want the infinity edge to go around a corner, this costs more as it is far more difficult to engineer.
The main cost of an infinity pool, regardless of these factors, is always the holding tank. Building a negative edge pool is essentially like building two swimming pools in one, as the holding tank has to be built to the same standards as the main pool, so naturally this costs a significant amount.
The construction of the infinity edge also has a major impact on the infinity pool cost. As these pool walls have to cope with the weight of water constantly cascading over them, they need to be stronger than regular pool walls, so special reinforcement work has to be undertaken. This is the case whether you choose a concrete or fibreglass pool, so it is an element which always has to be factored into your budget.
However, the size of your pool has less influence on the cost than you might think. As the same processes are involved in creating the infinity edge regardless of size, there is very little price difference between a medium-sized wet edge pool and a large one.
The average infinity pool will cost you at least $25,000 on top of what you would spend on a regular concrete or fibreglass pool, but you can only gain an accurate idea of the cost to you by having a consultation with a professional pool builder.
Are infinity swimming pools worth it?
This depends entirely on what you want from a swimming pool. Every pool owner uses their pool in different ways, and has different ideas about what makes the ideal pool. Infinity pools are extremely novel, and they look stunning, so your pool will be a standout design feature which gives your property a truly luxurious look and feel. The aesthetic advantage they offer could potentially add value to your home.
If you live in particularly beautiful surroundings, an edgeless design can increase your enjoyment of your pool and your property even more, as it gives you the ideal vantage point to take in the views in seclusion and comfort. Nature lovers in rural areas will enjoy feeling like part of the scenery as they swim, as it adds an authenticity to the experience of being in the water, and increases your appreciation of the natural world around you as it enables you to view it with no barriers.
For high-end hotels and spas, infinity pools make absolute sense, as they offer the level of luxury and exclusivity that guests expect. However, if you are wondering whether to purchase an infinity pool for your backyard, it is a case of weighing up your priorities and looking carefully at your budget, so you can decide whether or not this highly unusual design is the right pool choice for you.
Do you have an infinity pool, or any experience of swimming in one? Do you think they are a good idea or a fad? Is an infinity pool something you would consider for your own backyard? Join the discussion in the comments below.